TUKUL 4: Melka Kunture Archaeology

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Gombore I


This site, discovered in 1965 by J. Chavaillon, was excavated until 1981. Eleven excavations campaigns were carried out in order to expose a paleosurface of 250 m². Different Oldowan levels have been discovered. Level B was divided into three sub-levels: the most important (B2) is sometimes separated from the underlying level B3 by a layer of volcanic ashes. Two limited excavations have been carried out at this site in order to reach levels C and D.

Stratigraphy and chronology

Level B2 is about 1 m above the possible base of this sedimentary sequence of layers of hardened clay, consolidated sand, gravel and cemented pebbles. The stratigraphy continues below the actual Awash level. According to paleomagnetic evidence, level B occurs just after the Olduvai Event: the site should therefore be dated to about 1.7/1.6 Myr.

The Olodowan level

Fauna and flora

Click to enlarge Several faunal remains have been recovered. Hippopotamus amphibius is frequent and Suids of the Metridiochoerus and Phacochoerus groups are present. There are also some remains of Giraffe; elephants (Elephas recki) and crocodiles are very rare. Bovids are abundant (Connochaetes taurinus and Damaliscus) while Equids are present with Hipparion. A particularly interesting fragment of liane  (Cesalpinioxilon sp.) was recovered at the  base of level B2. Fauna and flora (pollen and fossil wood) indicate the presence of an open forest with humid climate.
Hippopotamus tooth and lithic artifacts  


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Fossil liana

Lithic industry

The artifacts are made on lava, basalt and trachyte, more rarely on obsidian. The pebbles used were collected on the beach. The cores are not frequent and the flaking debris comes from both the cores themselves and from the knapping of the pebbles. Out of the 2000 pebble tools, choppers represent half of the assemblage. Polyhedrons and end-scrapers on pebble (rabots) are present; some archaic handaxes are quite exceptional. Artifacts on flake are very rare: notched and denticulated flakes, but also some side-scrapers, as well as rare end-scrapers and borers.

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Basalt polyhedron Chopper



In 1976 a left distal humerus of Homo sp. was discovered in the southern sector of the excavation. This is a robust specimen which recalls the humerus TM1517 of Kromdraai and that of Australopithecus boisei (KNMER 739) of Lake Turkana. However this specimen presents also some morphological features typical of the genus Homo (Homo erectus).



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