Taphonomy and Behaviour at the Acheulean Site of Kariandusi, Kenya

  • Ceri ShiptonEmail author
Original Article


In this article, Louis Leakey’s previously unpublished field reports are used to describe the 1929–1931 excavation campaign at the Acheulean site of Kariandusi. Using the sample of artefacts from this campaign housed in the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University, I attempt to understand the natural and behavioural factors contributing to site formation at Kariandusi. The matrix adhering to the artefacts and the degree of rounding on the artefacts are used to assess the depositional environments at the site. The artefact types represented at the site are used to reconstruct hominin discard behaviour. Descriptions and measurements of the bifaces are used to determine how these tools were made and whether they were resharpened. In conclusion, I provide a model of the life history of a Kariandusi biface.


Acheulean Taphonomy Biface Discard behaviour Resharpening 


Dans cet article, je m’appuie sur des rapports non publiés de Louis Leakey pour décrire la campagne de fouille de 1929–1931 au site Acheuléen de Kariandusi. En utilisant un échantillon d’objets provenant de cette fouille et entreposé au Pitt Rivers Museum à l’université d’Oxford, j’essaie d’élucider les facteurs naturels et comportementaux qui ont contribué à la formation du site. Le sédiment résiduel adhérant aux artefacts et le degrée d’arrondissement des objets sont employés afin d’évaluer les environnements dépositionnels au niveau du site. Les types d’artefacts sont utilisés pour reconstruire les pratiques de rejet des hominins. La description des bifaces et les mesures prises sur ces objets sont employées pour déterminer comment ces outils ont été faits et s’ils ont été réaiguisés. Enfin, je conclus en offrant un modèle du cycle de vie d’un biface de Kariandusi.



The author wishes to thank Dan Hicks, Alice Stevenson and Jeremy Coote for the opportunity to conduct this research. The Boise Fund is gratefully acknowledged for financial support. Thank you to Alice Stevenson for guidance and help with all aspects of this work, and to Matt Nicholas for accessing the artefact collections and taking the photographs of the Pitt Rivers artefacts. Thanks to Imogen Gunn for accessing Louis Leakey’s field reports and to Anne Taylor for access to the Cambridge artefact collections. Thank you to Stephen Lycett and Adria LaViolette for constructive comments on a draft of this manuscript. Thanks to Hannah Shipton for help with the French translation and to Vivien Kersey for proof-reading. Thanks to Kate Connell for the invitation to present this work and for the helpful feedback from the Palaeolithic-Mesolithic Discussion Group at the University of Cambridge.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pitt Rivers MuseumUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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