Oldowan behavior and raw material transport: perspectives from the Kanjera Formation
Braun, David R
Ferraro, Joseph V
Bishop, Laura C
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The archaeological record of Oldowan hominins represents a diverse behavioral system. It has been suggested that exploitation of lithic resources by Oldowan hominins was simplistic and represented mostly use of local sources of stone. Here we investigate the raw material selection and transport behaviors of Oldowan hominins reflected in the stone artifact assemblages from the Kanjera South Formation, South Rachuonyo District, Kenya. Using geochemical methods (ED-XRF) artifacts are linked to primary and secondary source outcrops throughout southwestern Kenya. These data show that hominins selected raw materials for transport at frequencies that are significantly different from their availability on ancient landscapes. Furthermore, a substantial proportion of the assemblage represents transport over relatively long distances (>10 km). Our study further suggests that in the early stages of stone tool use hominins used a wide variety of raw materials and selected these materials at some distance from their eventual discard locations. Early hominin behavior may have incorporated an understanding of raw material source distributions across a more extensive landscape than has been previously documented. This supports the growing perspective that Oldowan technology represents a more complex behavioral pattern than is usually associated with the beginnings of hominin tool use.