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



The site

The site of Gadeb, known ever since 1965, lies in the region of the Bale, north of the town of Adaba. It extends for about 8 km along the course of the Webi Shebeli, between 2300 and 2500 m a.s.l. An international mission led by John Desmond Clark conducted investigations here between 1975 and 1978, excavating several sites which revealed a sequence spanning the end of the Oldowan and the Acheulean.

Location of Gadeb site
Paleomagnetism indicates an age between 1.5 and 0.7 Myr for these formations, whereas the K/Ar method has provided a date around 1.0 Myr.


A geological study of the area indicated that around 2.5 Myr a basalt flow obstructed a valley. The sediments which subsequently deposited in this valley can be distinguished into five main phases. The first three correspond to the formation of a large lake (150 by 50 km); the fourth is characterized by deposits left by the marshes formed during phases when the lake withdrew; the fifth corresponds to the rise of the conditions that led to the drainage of the lake and the forming of the gorges in which the Webi Shebeli presently runs.

Gadeb 2E

The site of Gadeb 2E yielded fauna including Bovidae, zebra, Suidae, elephant, and hippopotamus (Metridiochoerous andrewasi); the presence of this last species confirms an estimated age of 1.0 Myr. The industry, typical of the Developed Oldowan, includes pebble tools (choppers, polyhedrons, spheroids), small tools on flakes (scrapers), and a limited number of handaxes.

Gadeb 8A
A 6 m2 excavation conducted in 1975 in the Acheulean site of Gadeb 8A yielded over 1800 artifacts, including 240 handaxes.

Gadeb 8E

Gadeb 8E
Over 20,000 artifacts were found at the Acheulean site of Gadeb 8E, including numerous handaxes and cleavers.

Gadeb 8F

The butchering site of a hippopotamus was excavated a few meters above the Acheulean site of Gadeb 8F.

It yielded a fragmentary scapula and other bones found next to spheroids, flakes and some scrapers, as well as a few handaxes and one cleaver.

Gadeb 8F


J. Desmond Clark, H. Kurashina 1979, An Analysis of Earlier Stone Age Bifaces from Gadeb (Locality 8E), Northern Bale Highlands, Ethiopia, South African Archaeology Bulletin, 34, pp. 93-109.

J. Desmond Clark, H. Kurashina 1980, New Plio-Pleistocene Archaeological Occurrences from the Plain of Gadeb, Upper Webi Shebele Basin, Ethiopia, and a Statistical Comparison of the Gadeb Sites with other Early Stone Age Assemblages, Anthropologie, Brno, 28, pp. 161-187.

J. Desmond Clark 1987, Transitions: Homo erectus and the Acheulean. The Ethiopian site of Gadeb and the Middle Awash, Journal of Human Evolution, 16, pp. 809-826.

J. de Heinzelin, J.D. Clark, K. D. Schick, H. Gilbert (eds) 2000, The Acheulean and the Plio-Pleistocene deposits of the Middle Awash Valley, Ethiopia, Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale, Tervuren, Belgique, 104.

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