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African Archaeological Review

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 199–229 | Cite as

Levallois Lithic Technology from the Kapthurin Formation, Kenya: Acheulian Origin and Middle Stone Age Diversity

  • Christian A. TryonEmail author
  • Sally McBrearty
  • Pierre-Jean Texier
Article

The earliest fossils of Homo sapiens are reported from in Africa in association with both late Acheulian and Middle Stone Age (MSA) artifacts. The relation between the origin of our species during the later Middle Pleistocene in Africa and the major archaeological shift marked by the Acheulian-MSA transition is therefore a key issue in human evolution, but it has thus far suffered from a lack of detailed comparison. Here we initiate an exploration of differences and similarities among Middle Pleistocene lithic traditions through examination of Levallois flake production from a sequence of Acheulian and MSA sites from the Kapthurin Formation of Kenya dated to ∼200–500 ka. Results suggest that MSA Levallois technology developed from local Acheulian antecedents, and support a mosaic pattern of lithic technological change across the Acheulian-MSA transition.

Les premiers restes fossiles d’Homo sapiens sont rapportés d’Afrique aussi bien à des avec des outillages de l’Acheuléen final que du Middle Stone Age (MSA). La relation entre l’origine de notre espèce au Pléistocène moyen final d’Afrique et le changement majeur marquée par la transition Acheuléen-MSA est par conséquent un moment clé de l’évolution humaine qui a manqué jusqu’ici d’analyses comparatives détaillées. Nous nous proposons ici de commencer à explorer les différences et les similarités qui peuvent se faire jour au Pléistocène moyen dans les traditions techniques à l’examen des productions à éclats Levallois, dans une séquence de sites acheuléens et MSA de la formation de Kapthurin (Kenya), datée de 200–500 ka. Les resultants obtenus suggèrent que la technologie Levallois MSA s’est développée sur ce substrat acheuléen et renforce cette perception que l’on peut avoir d’une mosaïque de changements technologiques jalonnant la transition Acheuléen-MSA.

KEY WORDS:

Levallois Kapthurin Formation Acheulian Middle Stone Age transition 

Notes

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Tryon’s research was supported by a post-doctoral fellowship from the Fyssen Foundation (Paris), and the Smithsonian Institution (Human Origins Program, National Museum of Natural History), and dissertation improvement grants from the US National Science Foundation (BCS-0118345), the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Leakey Foundation, the University of Connecticut Research Foundation, and the Bill Bishop Memorial Trust. McBrearty and Texier were supported by grants to McBrearty by the US National Science Foundation (BCS-0217728 and SBR-9601419). All field research at Koimilot was conducted under research permit MOEST 13/001/30C 229 from the Government of the Republic of Kenya, and an exploration and excavation license from the Kenyan Minister for Heritage and Sports, both issued to Tryon. McBrearty and Texier operated under a research permit (OP/13/001/C1391/1) and excavation license issued to Andrew Hill, as did Tryon during early stages of the project. We thank Andrew Hill, Rhonda Kauffman, Rick Potts and Hélène Roche for their comments and encouragement.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian A. Tryon
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Sally McBrearty
    • 3
  • Pierre-Jean Texier
    • 4
  1. 1.Human Origins Program, Department of AnthropologyNational Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian InstitutionWashington, DC20560-0112USA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyGeorge Washington UniversityWashington, DCUSA
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  4. 4.Centre d’Études PréhistoireAntiquité et Moyen Âges (UMR-6130, CNRS)AntibesFrance

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