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The Acheulean in East Africa: results of recent research

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This talk will present results of fieldwork in Lower and Middle Pleistocene sequences of Tanzania and Ethiopia, which cover the emergence and disappearance of the Acheulean in East Africa. With regards to the late Acheulean, I will introduce the sequence of the Mieso valley (central-east Ethiopia), where 40Ar/39Ar suggest ages younger than 212 ka for some of the Acheulean sites. The Mieso sequence also provides insights on the technological variability existing during the late Acheulean, in which stratified assemblages show a strong fragmentation of chaines operatoires, and demonstrate the variability of technological behaviours during the East African Middle Pleistocene. On the origins of the Acheulean, this talk will report recent archaeological excavations at the circa 1.5 Myr site of EF-HR (Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania). Renewed excavations at the main site and nearby trenches have unearthed a considerably large new assemblage, which enable reconstructing a detailed story of the paleoecological setting, taphonomy and lithic technology. In addition, our test-trenching approach has detected conspicuous differences in density of artefacts across the landscape. In summary, recent fieldwork has contributed new stratigraphic, technological, and taphonomic data that should play a relevant role in shaping an updated view of the Acheulean of East Africa, which will be discussed within the context of the Africa record and beyond.

This talk is part of the Biological Anthropology Seminar Series series.

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