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Excavations at FxJj20Main-Extension-0, a possible fire feature associated with Oldowan artifacts at Koobi Fora, Kenya

Author(s): Russell Cutts ; David Braun ; Sarah Hlubik ; JWK Harris

Year: 2016

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Clear evidence of hominin-controlled fire in the Earlier Stone Age archaeological record is sparse. Many indicators used to identify anthropogenic control of fire are not present or do not preserve from Early Pleistocene sediments (e.g. hearthstones, charcoal, ash). The 1972-4 excavations at FxJj20Main and FxJj20East localities of the Okote Mbr. (1.5-1.64 Ma) of the Koobi Fora Fm. recovered sediment features that appear to be reddened by an anomalous oxidation process. These are among the earliest of the open-air localities preserving debated evidence of anthropogenic control of fire. Recent expansions of these excavations (FxJj20Main-Extension-0) recovered similar features to those identified during the 1972-4 investigations. Surface collections and subsequent excavation of the –Ext0 feature during the 2015 season have yielded data suggesting the circular one (1) meter oxidized feature may reflect anthropogenically controlled combustion. Here we report on initial analysis of potentially heat-altered lithics, spatial analysis of potentially heat-modified materials and sediments, and their association with Oldowan artifacts. We then describe preliminary analysis of a multi-proxy approach to study the anthropogenic nature of these features. These include micromorphology of sediments, petrographic microscopy (PM) of possible heat-altered lithics, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and thermoluminescence (TL) of siliceous artifacts.

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Excavations at FxJj20Main-Extension-0, a possible fire feature associated with Oldowan artifacts at Koobi Fora, Kenya. Russell Cutts, David Braun, Sarah Hlubik, JWK Harris. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405374)


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

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America