Acheulean Hominin Ecology: Organic Residue on Lithics as Evidence of Plant Processing


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 eco-niche exploitation, plant utilization, or what food was processed with stone tools.

The context of hominin activities at Olduvai Gorge (Bed I and II) is revealed through macrobotany, ethnoarchaeology, and the analysis of pollen, phytoliths, and biomarkers. However, no studies explore the human ecology, dietary dimension, and functionality of Acheulean technologies as seen through direct evidence in the form of plant residue that may still reside on stone tool surfaces. We present lithic residue indicating:

•Proximity of wetlands /plant resources.

•Bark, resin, and lignified tissue deposited on handaxes.

•Bifaces preserved starches from underground storage organs, and some legumes. Phytoliths on handaxes derived from cork.

•Resinaceous material attached to scrapers.

•Scrapers trapped starches from the rhizome of Typha capensis.

•USO epidermis is attested by root bacterial fibrils.

Cite this Record

Acheulean Hominin Ecology: Organic Residue on Lithics as Evidence of Plant Processing. Julio Mercader Florin, Robert Bird, Mariam Bundala, Fernando Diez-Martin, Manuel Dominguez-Rodrigo. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430863)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14429