TUKUL 3: Palaeoanthropology

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Hominids from Melka Kunture

Melka Kunture Hominids

Seven hominids remains have been discovered at Melka Kunture. In chronological order, from the oldest to the most recent ones, they come from the sites of Gombore I, Garba IV, Gombore II and Garba III.

Gombore I

A fragment of humerus was discovered in 1976. It includes a large portion of the diaphysis and the proximal epiphysis.

This left humerus belonged to an adult individual and it is in good state of pre-servation since only the articular portions are slightly damaged. What is more evident in this human remain is its robustness.

The bone is more robust than most specimens of Homo sapiens sapiens. The morphology of this humerus is instead closer to that of Homo erectus.

Gombore I - Fragment of humerus

Garba IV

The mandible of Garba IV was discovered in the level E during the 1981/1982 excavations campaign. This right hemi-mandible corresponds to the corpus of the mandible and is partially fragmented in its external face below the deciduous molar.

In its present state the ascending ramus is totally lacking. The anterior portion of the symphysis is absent.

The in situ and functional dental series comprises only the second deciduous molar (dM2) and the extremely worn first deciduous molar (dM1), in front of it.

Garba IV - Child mandible
On the internal face of the mandible, where the bone is broken, it is possible to see the first permanent molar (M1). The wear of the in situ deciduous tooth is very extensive while the second deciduous molar is not worn at all; this observation allows the attribution of this mandible to an individual aged between 3 and 5 years (±9 months). Thanks to its features this mandible can be attributed to Homo erectus.

Gombore II

Two bone fragments have been recovered at Gombore II in 1973 and in 1975: a frontal bone and a parietal bone that may belong to the same individual. The right frontal bone is incomplete, since all the left part of the scale is missing, while on the right side only a large antero-lateral fragment including the most lateral portion of the frontal torus is present. What is surprising in this fossil, as also in the parietal bone from the same site, is the strong mineralization and the great robustness of the bone.

The fragment of frontal scale is very thick and relatively flat and no transversal bulging is visible as in Homo sapiens.

The internal and external tables of this bone are relatively thin, while the thickness is due mainly to the diploe.

On the right side of this fragment it is possible to observe two strong temporal ridges. Only the lateral external edge of a very robust supra-orbital torus is preserved. On the whole these features are common to other fossils attributed to the same period.

Gombore II - Frontal bone
The parietal bone is the upper posterior region of a left parietal which includes part of the sagittal and occipital sutures.  

As in the frontal bone, what is surprising in this parietal fragment is its massive aspect and its thickness, due to the diploe, which is substantial over the whole surface of the bone.

This parietal fragment is relatively flat; only a slight convexity can be observed from top to bottom and from the anterior to the posterior portion. The very small size of this fragment also in correspondence to the parietal eminence is an archaic feature which is in agreement with the chronology attributed to the fragment.

Gombore II - Parietal bone
The two remains of Gombore II can be attributed to evolved Homo erectus or to archaic Homo sapiens.

Garba III

Three cranial fragments have been discovered at Garba III. These are a very thick fragment of parietal belonging to an adult, a fragment of parietal scale and a fragment of frontal scale. These latter two remains are very thin and can be certainly attributed to a child. All these fragments should be referred to Homo sapiens, well known around 200,000 years ago in Ethiopia in the site of Omo Kibish.

Garba III - Fragments of skull


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