Potential 1.5 million year old phantom hearth at FxJj20 AB, Koobi Fora, Kenya


Identifying the control and use of fire in domestic spaces in the Early Pleistocene is contentious, due to the lack of physical evidence preserved in the record. The ephemeral nature of fires results in a sparse archaeological record. Further, the evidence for fire may degrade quickly depending on the depositional context of the burial environment. The potential for identifying fire in the early Pleistocene archaeological record, where accepted hearth features are unknown, relies heavily on the ability to recognize in situ patterns, which indicate the presence of fire. New work at the site of FxJj20 AB, Koobi Fora, northern Kenya, has revealed spatial evidence indicating a potential 1.5 million year old hearth feature. Further testing of the deposits is required, but the initial spatial analysis of chipped stone and fossil bone indicate at least one locus of activity on the site. Combined with the presence of thermally altered stone and sediment, this indicates that a hearth feature may be present. Work is continuing, geochemically and micromorphologically, to determine the presence of combustion feature residues, and whether the evidence of fire can be behaviorally associated with the abundant evidence of hominin occupation at FxJj 20AB.

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Potential 1.5 million year old phantom hearth at FxJj20 AB, Koobi Fora, Kenya. Sarah Hlubik, J.W.K. Harris, David Braun, Francesco Berna, Craig Feibel. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398335)

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Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;