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African Archaeological Review

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 291–322 | Cite as

The Early Middle Pleistocene Site of Gombore II (Melka Kunture, Upper Awash, Ethiopia) and the Issue of Acheulean Bifacial Shaping Strategies

  • Rosalia Gallotti
  • Carmine Collina
  • Jean-Paul Raynal
  • Guy Kieffer
  • Denis Geraads
  • Marcello Piperno
Original Article

Abstract

The Gombore II site dates to circa the Brunhes Matuyama Reversal and is one of the Acheulean localities of the Melka Kunture (Upper Awash, Ethiopia) archaeological complex, known since the 1970s. In 2001, this locality was selected as the site for an Open Air Museum and thus excavated. The excavation area has yielded an abundant Acheulean lithic assemblage manufactured on volcanic raw materials in close association with numerous paleontological remains. A technological analysis was carried out on a fraction of the bifacial tools (bifaces and cleavers) which could be temporarily removed from the displayed surface in the museum. This set of artefacts reveals new data about the bifacial shaping strategies adopted at the beginning of the Middle Pleistocene in Ethiopia. The use of obsidian and the systematic manufacturing of twisted bifaces are original features of the assemblage. These data are discussed in the framework of penecontemporaneous East African sites.

Keywords

Ethiopia Melka Kunture Acheulean Lithic technology Bifacial shaping Twisted bifaces 

Résumé

Gomboré II est un des sites acheuléens du complexe préhistorique de Melka Kunture (Haut Awash, Ethiopie), connu depuis les années 70, et se place aux environs de la limite Brunhes-Matuyama. En 2001, ce site fut choisi pour implanter un musée de site et des fouilles furent alors organisées. La zone fouillée a livré un abondant outillage lithique acheuléen manufacturé sur roches volcaniques, étroitement associé à de nombreux restes paléontologiques. L’analyse technologique du matériel n’a pu être conduite que sur une fraction des outils bifaciaux (bifaces et hachereaux), temporairement extraite de la surface de fouille préservée dans le musée. L’étude de ces artefacts apporte de nouvelles données sur les stratégies de façonnage adoptées par les hominidés au début du Pléistocène moyen en Ethiopie. L’usage de l’obsidienne et la fabrication systématique de bifaces “twist” confèrent un aspect original à cette série. Les données sont replacées dans le contexte contemporain est-africain.

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank the Authority for Research & Conservation of Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture & Tourism and the Oromia Culture and Tourism Bureau for giving permission to conduct research at Melka Kunture and Balchit area. The field and laboratory activities have been financially supported by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Sapienza Università di Roma, and the Région Aquitaine through the project Origines and Origines II. The construction of the Melka Kunture Museum was financially supported by the Oromia Culture and Tourism Bureau and by the Culture 2000 project of the European Commission “From the Past to the Present in Ethiopian Prehistory. An Interactive Museum for the Archaeological Park of the Early Palaeolithic site of Melka Kunture,” Agreement no. 2006-1033/001-001 CLT CA12. We are grateful also to the National Museum of Addis Ababa, the Italian Embassy, and the Italian Institute of Culture for their continuous support. We thank also Leah Morgan and Peter Bindon who contributed to the English revision, M. Pennacchioni for artefact drawings, and M.C. Salvi and R. Salvini for the topographic map reproduced in Fig. 1 and for the digitalized orthophoto reproduced in Fig. 6. Finally, we would like to thank the reviewers for their useful comments and express deep thanks to those who have given us their constant and continuous collaboration.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rosalia Gallotti
    • 1
  • Carmine Collina
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jean-Paul Raynal
    • 3
    • 4
  • Guy Kieffer
    • 5
  • Denis Geraads
    • 6
  • Marcello Piperno
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze dell’AntichitàSapienza Università di RomaRomeItaly
  2. 2.CEPAM, UMR 6130, CNRS–Université de Nice Sophia-AntipolisValbonneFrance
  3. 3.CNRS, UMR 5199 PACEA IPGQ, Université de Bordeaux 1TalenceFrance
  4. 4.Department of Human EvolutionMax Planck Institute for Evolutionary AnthropologyLeipzigGermany
  5. 5.Italian Archaeological Mission at Melka Kunture and BalchitLe CrestFrance
  6. 6.UPR 2147 CNRS44 rue de l’Amiral MouchezParisFrance

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