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Institute of Archaeology

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Alexander Titan Kabelindde

Alexander Titan Kabelindde

Technological behaviour of Homo erectus in Beds II, III and IV, Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania).

 

Email: alexander.kabelindde.14@ucl.ac.uk
Section: Archaeological Sciences

Supervisors:

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Technological behaviour of Homo erectus in Beds II, III and IV, Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania).

Stone tool technology is one of the major areas of interests in Palaeolithic research. While in the last few decades extensive studies related to technological change, hominin evolution and their behaviour have received great attention in East Africa, little work has been done to explain technological capabilities of our stone tool-using ancestors who lived in Olduvai's Beds II, III and IV (Tanzania). This is due to greater emphasis of investigations in Oldowan assemblages found in Beds I and II in Olduvai Gorge, which has received most of the research attention after Leakey's fieldwork. This study aims to remedy this lack of attention to the Beds II, III and IV records by using available archaeological assemblages (i.e. Leakey collections) and Olduvai Gorge Archaeology Project (OGAP)'s lithic collections, to study and better understand technological capabilities of Homo erectus during the late Early Pleistocene.

The overall objective of my research is to investigate our ancestors' stone tools technological skills by studying early Pleistocene materials from Olduvai Gorge, particularly from Beds II, III and IV. The above-mentioned main objective will be accompanied by the following specific objectives;

1. Conduct comprehensive technological analysis of stone tools from Beds II, III and IV sites. This will involve reconsideration of previously excavated assemblages to understand technologies and hominins' behaviour.

2. Conduct survey of sources of raw materials to contextualise raw material distribution at sites. I will undertake survey of the sources of major lithics raw materials, including Naibor Soit, Engelosin, Kelogi, and local stream channels, to measure distance between these sources and sites, and map the location of raw material sources in order to understand how raw material availability affected the reduction intensity during stone tool making.

To achieve the above goals, this study specifically seeks to answer the following questions;

1. What were the technological capabilities of our stone tool-using ancestors who lived at Olduvai during Acheulean times? Until recently, only typological (Leakey and Roe, 1994, Leakey, 1971) and flaking skill (de la Torre and Mora, 2005) approaches have been applied to the assemblages. My intention is to take it further and research the Acheulean tools on the technological organisation and techno-economic perspective in order to provide a diachronic understanding of Acheulean lithics materials at Olduvai.

2. Is there stasis or technological change during the Olduvai Acheulean? Roe (1994: 220) concludes "All the Developed Oldowan biface sets are pretty similar to each other and all are different from the classic Acheulean samples". My intention is to study samples of the bifaces studied by Roe to prove if there is the difference between Developed Oldowan bifaces and Acheulean bifaces. Therefore, this will help me to determine whether there is technological change or stasis.


Stone tool technology is one of the major areas of interests in Palaeolithic research. While in the last few decades extensive studies related to technological change, hominin evolution and their behaviour have received great attention in East Africa, little work has been done to explain technological capabilities of our stone tool-using ancestors who lived in Olduvai's Beds II, III and IV (Tanzania). This is due to greater emphasis of investigations in Oldowan assemblages found in Beds I and II in Olduvai Gorge, which has received most of the research attention after Leakey's fieldwork. This study aims to remedy this lack of attention to the Beds II, III and IV records by using available archaeological assemblages (i.e. Leakey collections) and Olduvai Gorge Archaeology Project (OGAP)'s lithic collections, to study and better understand technological capabilities of Homo erectus during the late Early Pleistocene. The overall objective of my research is to investigate our ancestors' stone tools technological skills by studying early Pleistocene materials from Olduvai Gorge, particularly from Beds II, III and IV. The above-mentioned main objective will be accompanied by the following specific objectives; 1. Conduct comprehensive technological analysis of stone tools from Beds II, III and IV sites. This will involve reconsideration of previously excavated assemblages to understand technologies and hominins' behaviour. 2. Conduct survey of sources of raw materials to contextualise raw material distribution at sites. I will undertake survey of the sources of major lithics raw materials, including Naibor Soit, Engelosin, Kelogi, and local stream channels, to measure distance between these sources and sites, and map the location of raw material sources in order to understand how raw material availability affected the reduction intensity during stone tool making. To achieve the above goals, this study specifically seeks to answer the following questions; 1. What were the technological capabilities of our stone tool-using ancestors who lived at Olduvai during Acheulean times? Until recently, only typological (Leakey and Roe, 1994, Leakey, 1971) and flaking skill (de la Torre and Mora, 2005) approaches have been applied to the assemblages. My intention is to take it further and research the Acheulean tools on the technological organisation and techno-economic perspective in order to provide a diachronic understanding of Acheulean lithics materials at Olduvai. 2. Is there stasis or technological change during the Olduvai Acheulean? Roe (1994: 220) concludes "All the Developed Oldowan biface sets are pretty similar to each other and all are different from the classic Acheulean samples". My intention is to study samples of the bifaces studied by Roe to prove if there is the difference between Developed Oldowan bifaces and Acheulean bifaces. Therefore, this will help me to determine whether there is technological change or stasis.

Funding

I receive generous funding from: UCL School of Arts and Social Sciences; Wenner-Gren Foundation; LSB Leakey Foundation and The Palaeontological Scientific Trust (PAST).

Education

  • BA (Hons), Archaeology, University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), 2014
  • MA, Archaeology of the Arab and Islamic World, UCL, 2017