TUKUL 1: African Prehistory

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Protagonists of African Prehistory

Raymond A. Dart

South African anthropologist and anatomist at the University of Witwatersrand (Johannesburg).

He was the first to define on 1924 the genus Australopithecus, on the base of his study of the skull of the "Taung child" (A. africanus), discovered in the Buxton Cave (Cape Province, South Africa).

Louis S.B. Leaky

Kenyan paleontologist and responsible of the researches at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania (1953-1972), where he discovered in 1959, together with his wife M.D. Leakey, the first skull of a robustus Australopithecine (Zinjanthropus boisei), actually known as Australopithecus (Paranthropus) boisei.

Mary D. Leakey

Kenyan archaeologist responsible, together with her husband L.S.B. Leakey, of the excavation at Olduvai Gorge (1953-1975). She published in 1971 a widely known study concerning the first systematic classification of the Oldowan industries. Moreover during researches carried out at Laetoli in Tanzania (1974-1979), she found the famous footprints of Australopithecus afarensis.

Camille Arambourg

French palentologist, responsible since 1932 of several Expeditions at Omo Valley (Ethiopia).

He also directed for several years researches in important paleontological sites in Northern Africa.

Phillip V. Tobias

South African palaeoanthropologist at the University of Witwatersrand (Johannesburg). He continued the researches of R. Dart in the most famous South African fossil caves (Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Makapansgat). In 1964 he defined for the first time, together with J. Napier and L.S.B. Leakey, the genus Homo habilis, based on the study of a mandible discovered at Olduvai Gorge.

John D. Clark

English archaeologist, who dedicated most of his activity to the study of African archaeology.

He wrote very important synthesis on different periods of the Prehistory of this continent, where he directed several excavations.

Yves Coppens

French palaeoanthropologist and paleontologist at Collège de France.
Together with F. Clark Howell and R. Leakey he was responsible of the International Omo Research Expedition (1967-1976).
He published several papers on the human remains from Melka Kunture. He proposed a suggestive theory on the origins of Hominids in Eastern Africa, known as “East Side Story”.

Jean Chavaillon

French geologist and archaeologist at CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique). He took part to the International Omo Research Expedition (1967-1976) and discovered several of the most ancient prehistoric sites, dated to around 2.3 Myr.
Since 1965 until 1995 he directed the French Archaeological Mission at Melka Kunture and he is actually a member of the Italian Archaeological Mission. He also carried out important researches and excavations in the Republic of Djibouti (1985 -1987).

Richard E.F. Leakey

Kenyan palaeoanthropologist, son of L.S.B. Leakey and M.D. Leakey, he directed the International Omo Research Expedition (1967-1976). Since 1970 he was the coleader of the Koobi Fora Research Project together with Gl.Ll. Isaac. He discovered important fossil Hominids, as for example the famous Homo ergaster, also known as "Turkana Boy" (Nariokotome, West Turkana, Kenya).

Glynn Ll. Isaac

Anthropologist and archaeologist at the University of Berkeley (California), he directed the Center for Prehistory and Paleontology in Nairobi (1962-1965).
He has been working with R. Leakey since 1970 as coleader of the Koobi Fora Research Project. He published important papers on several theoretical aspects of the African Prehistory and, in particular, a relevant study on the Acheulean Kenyan site of Olorgesailie (Kenya).

Donald C. Johanson

American palaeoanthropologist, director of the Institut of Human Origins (Arizona). Since the beginning of the Seventies he carried out researches at Hadar (Ethiopia), which allowed the discovery of several fossil remains of Australopithecines, dated around 3.5-3.3 Myr. He became widely famous for the discovery of the fossil of Australopithecus afarensis, known as "Lucy".

Tim D. White

American palaeoanthropologist at the University of Berkeley (California). He collaborated with D. Johanson to the first researches at Hadar and he is actually responsible of important projects in the area of Middle Awash (Ethiopia).
His research activities brought to light some of the most famous Hominids (Ardipithecus ramidus, Australopithecus garhi) as well as one of the most ancient fossil of archaic Homo sapiens in the locality of Herto (Ethiopia).

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