TUKUL 4: Melka Kunture Archaeology

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Kella I


The name Kella corresponds to one of the left-hand tributaries of the Awash River. The site of Kella I is made up of volcanic-sedimentary formations with archaeological and faunal remains related to four main archaeological phases. Some artifacts referable to the Developed Oldowan were recovered at the base of the sequence; a Middle Acheulean complex was identified in an upper level. Several lithic artifacts (handaxes and cleavers), collected from the surface in 1963, probably come from this level which was partially destroyed by erosion. The Middle Stone Age is not well represented. Finally, at the top of the small hill of Kella, two partially eroded strata, where limited excavations were carried out in 1965 and 1970, contain in situ Late Stone Age materials.

The site

Stratigraphy and chronology


On the Kella hill, the basal level, tuffaceous with obsidian gravel, contains some pebble tools.

Above this, separated by erosion, a relatively thin Acheulean level is related to sand, clay and cobbles.

These formations, mostly eroded and destroyed, were replaced by sandy and clayey sediments where some Middle Stone Age artifacts were recovered. At the top, a deposit of black clay contains two chronologically close levels which yielded an industry on obsidian.

Obsidian burin

Lithic industry

At the top of the Kella hill, two archaeological levels yielded an important Late Stone Age assemblage. The most recent level is a workshop where small obsidian pebbles were utilized as raw material. There are numerous blades and bladelets, but also different kinds of burins and backed knives of the Upper Palaeolithic type, notched and denticulated pieces, borers, side-scrapers and small choppers. No geometric microliths were collected at Kella. However, in 1973, in the site of Wofi IV, one of this artifacts, characteristic of the Epipaleolithic and already known at the site of Modjo, was discovered. Some partly decorated pottery fragments were also discovered during excavations carried out at Kella. The lithic industries of Kella I and Wofi  and IV display similar features. 

Obsidian side scraper

Obsidian point

Obsidian denticulated tool


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