Ecological Perspectives on Hominin Landscape Use during the Early Stone Age of Africa

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

It is increasingly clear that Africa's Early Stone Age (ESA) sites sample a diversity of behaviors and no one model is sufficient to explain every collection of archaeological debris. Behavioral flexibility was thus probably a key component of hominin adaptations, and the goal of this symposium is to identify the ecological parameters, or affordances (resources and hazards), that conditioned where, when, and how hominins chose to concentrate their archaeologically visible behaviors across Africa's ESA landscapes. Papers in this session have a strong ecological focus and will contribute to an integrated examination of ESA hominin landscape use in Africa from faunal, lithic, paleobotanical, isotopic, and/or geological perspectives.

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  • Documents (5)

  • Acheulean Hominin Ecology: Organic Residue on Lithics as Evidence of Plant Processing (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Julio Mercader Florin. Robert Bird. Mariam Bundala. Fernando Diez-Martin. Manuel Dominguez-Rodrigo.

    Several compendia have illustrated the reach of conventional approaches to exploring the origin of omnivorous diets. Included are the cost of developing large brains and bodies; tooth size/shape, enamel thickness, wear; and the chemical signal from diet on bones/teeth. Over the last decade, new interpretations of human origins have proposed a long history of fire dependence, suggesting humans are biologically adapted to cooked food. However, these studies have not provided direct indication of...

  • Behavioral Inferences from Early Stone Age Sites: A View from the Koobi Fora Formation (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jonathan Reeves. David Braun. Matthew Douglass.

    The Early Stone Age record is a spatially continuous palimpsest representing thousands of years of artifact discard. The record thus reflects a long-term pattern of hominin movement at a landscape scale. Despite this, most recent research continues to employ interpretive perspectives suited for finer temporal grains and relies on targeted excavation of dense concentrations of artifacts. Here ‘sites’ are investigated as discrete functionally organized places and analytically interpreted based on...

  • Early Stone Age hominin habitat preferences: predictions from a modern taphonomic and ecological study in Kenya (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Briana Pobiner.

    Two key resources that would have conditioned hominin behavior and habitat preferences in the Early Stone Age of Africa are food and water. This talk presents an examination of spatial relationships of these resources from a modern taphonomic and ecological study of large mammal carcasses at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya. The locations of fresh carnivore kills and older bone scatters that still retained within-bone nutrients (marrow and brains) are examined to determine whether these dietary...

  • Paleoecological Assessment of the Douglas Korongo East and Bell's Korongo East Sites, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Cynthia M. Fadem. Gavin Curry. Gabriel Rehm. Matthew Evans.

    Current work at DKE and BKE in concert with The Olduvai Paleoanthropology and Paleoecology Project (TOPPP) has exposed Bed I and Bed II deposits, respectively. At DKE a series of tuffs and siltstones, including paleosols, indicates DKE hosted a series of productive landscapes through time. Paleosols have well-developed blocky structure and host large concentrations of fossils. At BKE sandy fluvial deposits adjacent to siliceous siltstones confirm previous descriptions of site materials. Cultural...

  • Patterns of Hominin Land Use and Raw Material Procurement in the Paleo-Olduvai Basin, Tanzania (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Cory A. Henderson. Ryan M. Byerly. Cynthia Fadem. Curran Fitzgerald. Charles P. Egeland.

    Suitable toolstone was a key affordance for Early Stone Age (ESA) populations across Africa. Northern Tanzania’s Olduvai Basin, because it contains numerous ESA archaeological localities and a variety of quartzitic outcrops, offers an excellent opportunity to evaluate the effect of raw material distribution on hominin landuse. While the lithology and mineralogy of these outcrops have been well described, their macroscopic similarities confound efforts to reliably determine the exact source of...