History of research

The Italian Archaeological Mission

The Italian Archaeological Mission at Melka Kunture started in 1999 under the direction of Marcello Piperno (1999-2010), and is currently under the direction of Margherita Mussi.
A re-analysis of the geomorphological, sedimentological, lithological and volcanological characteristics of parts of the area has been since carried out, together with the study of the mandible of a Homo erectus child discovered in 1982 in Level E of Garba IV; with the archaeozoological study of the materials from Garba IV; with a detailed techno-typological analysis of the collections from the Oldowan sites; and with a thorough revision of the photographic and graphic archives.
In 2004 Chavaillon and Piperno published the first monograph on the Oldowan sites of Melka Kunture “Studies on the Early Paleolithic site of Melka Kunture, Ethiopia”.
Between 2001 and 2004 an Open Air Museum was planned and built at Gombore II, and in 2006 a new museum of Melka Kunture was also organized.
From 2005 to 2009, excavations were carried out at Garba IV (Levels E and F, Oldowan) and at Simbiro III (Acheulean). In 2011 a new research was started along the Atebella, an affluent of the Awash, where many Acheulean layers have been discovered, while Garba III, a Middle Stone Age site excavated in the Seventies of last century, was relocated and reinvestigated.

Excavation at Garba IVE-2005

A visit to Melka Kunture was organized in February 2011 for a delegation of the World Heritage Centre of Unesco, in collaboration with the Authority for Research and Conservation of the Cultural Heritage. The site was visited within the framework of a meeting in Addis Ababa entitled "Preparation of a Road Map to promote the inscription of African human origin sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List", which assembled scientists involved in prehistoric research in Africa, and site managers from all over the continent. At Melka Kunture, a warm welcome was provided by the authorities of the Oromia National Regional State.

The horsemen of Oromia welcome the Unesco delegation at Melka Kunture - 2011 (picture by M. Mussi).

The delegation visiting Melka Kunture in February 2011, during the UNESCO meeting (Copyright UNESCO-WHC).

Researchers, students and technicians

Since 1999 many researchers and technicians participated to the Italian Archaeological Mission and to the publications on Melka Kunture: 

Alemu Admessu, Guillaume Bardin, Kassaye Begashaw, Arlette Berthelet, Grazia Maria Bulgarelli, Jean Chavaillon, Nicole Chavaillon, Carmine Collina, Silvana Condemi, Paolo Conti, Roberto Conti, Yves Coppens, Andrea D'Andrea, Sarah Delerue, Lorenzo De Masi, Véra Eisenmann, Ivana Fiore, Rosalia Gallotti, Denis Geraads, Rainer Grün, Giulia Gruppioni, Marianne Hirbec-Raynal, Guy Kieffer, François-Xavier Le Bourdonnec, Giorgio Manzi, Sante Martin, Rita T. Melis, Andy Milton, Genevieve Papy, Massimo Pennacchioni, Germaine Petter, Marcello Piperno, Leah Morgan, Margherita Mussi, Gérard Poupeau, Jean-Paul Raynal, Stefano Ricci, Riccardo Salvini, Alessandro Simonicca, Patricia Smith, Antonio Tagliacozzo, Uri Zilberman.
The following students have also been members of the team:
Flavio Altamura, Leonardo Carmignani, Ornella Cuomo, Carolina Maestro, Maria Cristina Salvi, Carmen Santagata, Teresa Varricchio.

The Open Air Museum

Giorgio Greco much helped in the activities related to the Open Air Museum and to the construction of the new Museum. Several colleagues, and most notably  Jean-Paul Raynal, helped providing pdf files for the section “For Scientists” of the web site.

The stratigraphic sequence of Simbiro, with Acheulean layers earlier than 1 million years (picture by M.Mussi)

Along the Atebella river, an Acheulean layer earlier than 1 million years has been exposed by water erosion at the foot of a cliff (picture by M.Mussi)

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