Museum

TUKUL 1: African Prehistory

tukul1 Open air museum Tukul 2 Tukul 3 Tukul 4 panel 1 panel 2 panel 3 panel 4 panel 5 panel 6 panel 7 panel 8 panel 9 Open air museum Tukul 2 Tukul 3 Tukul 4 panel 1 panel 2 panel 3 panel 4 panel 5 panel 6 panel 7 panel 8 panel 9 Open air museum Tukul 2 Tukul 3 Tukul 4 panel 1 panel 2 panel 3 panel 4 panel 5 panel 6 panel 7 panel 8 panel 9

 

Earliest Stone Tools

The first tools

It is well known that some non-human Primates (chimps, baboons, etc.) are able to manipulate, modify and use tools made of stone, vegetal fibers and wood for different purpouses (defense, offense, food getting and processing). However, most of these activities do not leave any archaeological traces, and it will never be possible to  know if the Primates of some million years ago were able to use tools.

 

The most ancient technologies (2.6 - 1.9 Myr)

The first lithic artifacts preserved until now were discovered in levels dated to more than 2.6 Myr. They consist of pebbles of volcanic raw materials or quartz, flaked or intentionally fractured by hominids. In the Hata Member of the Bouri Formation on the Middle Awash region, close to the site where the Australopithecus garhi was found, lithic tools as well as antelope and horse remains with clear cut-marks, produced by these same artifacts, have been recovered. In some East African sites, these tools are associated with the remains of animals probably used as food. It is not possible to know exactly which kind of hominid (Australopithecus or the first representatives of the genus Homo, or both of them), was responsible for these lithic industries.

Bone with cut-marks from Bouri
Some of the most important sites in which traces of such ancient flaking activity were found, are in the Hadar region of Ethiopia, for example the site of Kada Gona dated between 2.6 and 2.3 Myr, or in the Omo Valley, in sites dated around 2.3 Myr. Others are known in Kenya, such as Lokalelei in the Western Turkana, dated to 2.3 Myr, which yielded about 500 artifacts on flake and cores together with some badly preserved faunal remains.

 

The Oldowan (1.9-1.3 Myr)

The name of this ancient technological phase derives from the site of Olduvai in Tanzania, where, starting in the late Fifties, Louis and Mary Leakey recovered lithic tools associated with faunal remains and, sometimes, also with hominid remains (Australopithecus and Homo habilis) in levels dated to about 1.8 Myr.

Other important sites were later identified and excavated in East Africa, such as Koobi Fora in Kenya, Melka Kunture and Fejej in Ethiopia, Nyabusosi in Uganda and Senga 5 in Zaire.


Gona Site (Hadar)
The earliest levels of these sites were referable more or less to the same age and lithic industries, characterized by a predominance of artifacts made on pebbles, were present until 1.4 Myr. Complexes of similar age are known also in South Africa, as for example in Member 5 at Sterkfontein. In the most recent levels, between 1.5 and 1.2 Myr (Bed II of Olduvai, Garba IVC and D at Melka Kunture, Karari Complex in the upper portion of the Koobi Fora Formation, some sites of Gadeb in the Ethiopian plateau of Bale, and in the Members 1 and 2 at Swartkrans in South Africa), lithic industries attributed to the Oldowan, with typological features similar to the previous ones, are documented.


Excavation at Omo Valley

 

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