African Archaeological Review

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 1–26 | Cite as

Evidence of the Emergence of “Modern” Behavior in the Middle and Later Stone Age Lithic Assemblages at Shurmai Rockshelter (GnJm1) and Kakwa Lelash Rockshelter (GnJm2) in the Mukogodo Hills of North-Central Kenya

  • D. Bruce Dickson
  • G.-Young Gang


The Shurmai (GnJm1) and Kakwa Lelash (GnJm2) rockshelters are located in the Mukogodo Hills region of north-central Kenya. Sondages excavated at both sites allow preliminary reconstruction of their geological and archaeological histories. A total of 4782 lithic pieces were recovered from Shurmai, and 7862 from Kakwa Lelash. The earliest materials from Shurmai date to the late African Middle Stone Age (sometime before ca. 40,000 years bp), and those from Kakwa Lelash apparently date to the African Later Stone Age (sometime after ca. 40,000 bp). The raw material composition, technomorphological characteristics, and style of assemblages from these sites do not reveal whether “modern” human behavior emerged first in the Middle or in the Later Stone Age. However, the greater sophistication, systematization and efficiency evident in the patterns of resource use, tool manufacture, and style in the Later Stone Age components at Shurmai and Kakwa Lelash rockshelters is consistent with the view that the origins of modern human behavior are to be found in the Later, rather than the Middle, Stone Age in Africa.

Les abris de Shurmai (GnJm1) et Kakwa Lelash (GnJm2) sont situés dans la région de collines de Mukogodo du Kenya nord-central. Les sondages creusés aux deux sites permettent la reconstruction préliminaire de leurs histoires géologiques et archéologiques. Un total de 4782 objets lithiques étaient récupérés de Shurmai, et 7862 à Kakwa Lelash. Les matériaux les plus tôt de Shurmai datent au fin de l'Age de la Pierre Moyen d'Afrique (avant ca. 40,000 ans avant le présent), et ceux de Kakwa Lelash datent apparemment au l'Age de la Pierre Récent d'Afrique (après ca. 40,000 ans avant le présent). La composition de matière première, les caractéristiques techno-morphologiques et le modèle des assemblages de ces sites ne révéle pas si le comportement “moderne” humain a émergé d'abord dans l'Age de la Pierre Moyen ou Récent. Cependant, la plus grand sophistication, systématisation et efficacité évident dans les configurations de l'utilisation de la ressource et dans la fabrication et style des outils de l'Age de la Pierre Récent des abris de Shurmai et Kakwa Lelash se conforme avec l'opinion que les origines de comportement moderne humain se trouvent dans l'Age de la Pierre Récent plutôt que dans l'Age de la Pierre Moyen dans Afrique.

“modern” behavior MSA/LSA Kenya Mukogodo Hills Shurmai Kakwa Lelash 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Bruce Dickson
    • 1
  • G.-Young Gang
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyTexas A&M UniversityCollege Station
  2. 2.Department of Cultural AnthropologyYeungnam UniversityTae-Dong, KyongsanRepublic of Korea

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