Recent research into oldowan hominin activities at Kanjera South, Western Kenya

  • L. C. BishopEmail author
  • T. W. Plummer
  • J. V. Ferraro
  • D. Braun
  • P. W. Ditchfield
  • F. Hertel
  • J. D. Kingston
  • J. Hicks
  • R. Potts
Original Paper


This paper presents the initial results of excavations at Kanjera South, located on the Homa Peninsula in Western Kenya. Since 1995, our exploration of this locality has yielded a combination of artefacts and well preserved faunal remains in a sedimentary context that also allows for environmental reconstruction. Here we examine the history of exploration of Kanjera and its significance in the development of palaeoanthropological research in East Africa. We also summarise our findings from the recently discovered Oldowan site. Taphonomic analyses suggest that the archaeological layers were formed at least partially by hominin activity. Artefacts made from a wide variety of raw materials are abundant, as are animal bones. Results of our first analyses confirm that Oldowan hominins had considerable behavioural flexibility and occupied a range of habitats.

Cet article présente des résultats préliminaires de nos fouilles au site de Kanjera South, situé sur la péninsule de Homa au Kenya occidental. Depuis 1995 nos explorations à cette localité ont produit une combinaison des outils lithiques et des restes fossils dans un bon état de conservation venant d’un contexte sédimentaire qui permet également les reconstitutions paleoenvironnementaux. Ici nous examinons l’histoire de l’exploration de Kanjera et de son importance dans le développement de la recherche paleoanthropologique en Afrique de l’Est. Nous récapitulons également nos résultats du gisement récemment découvert d’Oldowan. L’étude taphonomique suggère que les couches archéologiques ont été formées au moins partiellement par l’activité des hominins. Les objets fabriqués faits à partir d’une grande variété de matières lithiques sont abondants, de même que les os animaux. Les résultats de nos premières analyses confirment que les hominins d’Oldowan ont eu une flexibilité de comportement considérable et ont occupé une gamme d’habitats différents.


Kenya Plio-pleistocene Early Stone Age Oldowan Hominin behaviour Palaeoenvironments 



We thank the Office of the President, Republic of Kenya and the National Museums of Kenya for permission and support to conduct the field and laboratory studies described here. The research was conducted under the co-operative agreement between the National Museums of Kenya and the Smithsonian Institution. Funding for this research has been provided by the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation and the Boise Fund. Logistical support was provided by the Human Origins Program of the Smithsonian Institution. LB would like to acknowledge the support of NERC and the Nuffield Foundation. Thanks to Jim McCloskey for help with the preparation of the figures.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. C. Bishop
    • 1
    Email author
  • T. W. Plummer
    • 2
  • J. V. Ferraro
    • 3
  • D. Braun
    • 4
  • P. W. Ditchfield
    • 5
  • F. Hertel
    • 6
  • J. D. Kingston
    • 7
  • J. Hicks
    • 8
  • R. Potts
    • 9
  1. 1.School of Biological and Earth SciencesLiverpool John Moores University, LiverpoolLiverpoolUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.Anthropology Laboratory, Kissena Hall, Queens College, CUNYNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.Department of AnthropologyRutgers UniversityNew JerseyUSA
  5. 5.Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of ArtUniversity of OxfordOxfordUnited Kingdom
  6. 6.Department of BiologyCalifornia State UniversityNorthridgeUSA
  7. 7.Department of AnthropologyEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  8. 8.Department of Earth and Space SciencesDenver Museum of Nature and ScienceDenverUSA
  9. 9.National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, District of Columbia, Division of PalaeontologyNational Museums of KenyaNairobiKenya

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