African Archaeological Review

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 87–106 | Cite as

Acheulean Sites at Makuyuni (Lake Manyara, Tanzania): Results of Archaeological Fieldwork and Classification of the Lithic Assemblages

  • Liane Giemsch
  • Christine Hertler
  • Michael Märker
  • Geraldine Quénéhervé
  • Charles Saanane
  • Friedemann Schrenk
Original Article


This study focuses on the previously marginally known Middle Pleistocene culture in the surroundings of Makuyuni village, located east of Lake Manyara (northern Tanzania) in the East African Rift System (EARS). Recent surveys resulted in the discovery of 56 new sites. Besides the discovery of Middle Stone Age (MSA)/Later Stone Age (LSA) artifacts and exclusive fossil sites, 45 sites yielded varying amounts of Acheulean artifacts that were recorded and collected during the survey. The majority were surface finds, with additional artifacts retrieved from test excavations. Based on technological and chronological classification, the vast majority of the assemblage was attributed to the Middle Acheulean, with a few artifacts dated to early Late Acheulean. Chronometric dating places the Makuyuni finds to between 630,000 and 270,000 years BP, with the majority of artifacts belonging to an earlier period between 630,000 and 400,000 years BP. A key result is the discovery of artifacts at the contact zone between the lacustrine (lower) and the terrestrial (upper) member of the Manyara Beds, which allows a stratigraphic attribution of the artifacts for the first time. It suggests that hominins exploited the landscape along the shoreline of the paleolake Manyara during the early Middle Pleistocene.


Middle Pleistocene Lake Manyara Early Stone Age Acheulean Handaxes Tanzania 


Cette recherche se concentre sur la culture du Pléistocène moyen dans la région encore peu étudiée de Makuyuni, qui est située à l’est du Lac Manyara du nord de la Tanzanie et fait partie de la vallée du Rift est-africain. Des explorations récentes dans cette région ont permis le découvert de 56 nouveaux gisements. Outre la découverte d’artefacts du Paléolithique moyen/Paléolithique supérieur et de sites comprenant uniquement des fossiles, 45 nouveaux sites contenant des quantités variées d’artefacts du Acheuléen ont été enregistrées et récoltées au cours de la prospection. La majorité des artefacts ont été trouvés en surface, et quelques-uns lors de tentatives de fouilles. Sur la base de la classifications technologique et chronologique, la grande majorité de l’assemblage a été attribué à l’Acheuléen moyen, et quelques uns à l’Acheuléen supérieur. La datation absolue place les trouvailles de Makuyuni entre 630,000 et 270,000 ans B.P., la majorité des artefacts appartenant à la période antérieure, entre 630,000 et 400,000 ans B.P. Le résultat le plus important est la découverte des trouvailles en la séquence stratigraphique locale entre la couche lacustre, la séquence inférieure (Lower Manyara Beds), et la couche terrestre, la séquence supérieure (Upper Manyara Beds), qui permet une attribution stratigraphique des artefacts pour la première fois. Ces résultats suggèrent que des hominidés avaient exploité le paysage le long de la rive du paléo-Lac Manyara durant les phases les plus anciennes du Pléistocène moyen.



The artifact drawings were produced by Olivia J. M. Straub.

Funding Information

Permission for this research was granted by the Tanzanian Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), and the Department of Antiquities. We also thank the local government for supporting the fieldwork at Makuyuni. The research study was funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), Universitätsbund Tübingen, LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn, and the “ROCEEH” research center of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Archäologisches Museum FrankfurtFrankfurt am MainGermany
  2. 2.Research Center “The Role of Culture in Early Expansions of Humans”Senckenberg Research InstituteFrankfurt am MainGermany
  3. 3.Research Center, “The Role of Culture in the Early Expansions of Humans”University of TübingenTübingenGermany
  4. 4.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly
  5. 5.Department of Geosciences, Institute of GeographyUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany
  6. 6.Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, School of HumanitiesUniversity of Dar es SalaamDar es SalaamTanzania
  7. 7.Department of Vertebrate PalaeobiologyGoethe UniversityFrankfurt am MainGermany

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