University of Cambridge > > PalMeso Seminar Series > Geochronology of a major new Pleistocene sequence at Kilombe Kenya: from the Oldowan to Middle Stone Age

Geochronology of a major new Pleistocene sequence at Kilombe Kenya: from the Oldowan to Middle Stone Age

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This talk reports a newly extended major stratigraphic sequence with associated Palaeolithic sites from the area of Kilombe in central Kenya. The extended archaeological sequence runs from Oldowan finds, through the Acheulean and up to the Middle Stone Age. The sedimentary sequences within the Kilombe caldera and south flanks of the mountain have been dated through 40Ar/39Ar measurements and palaeomagnetic studies. A series of 40Ar/39Ar values date the geological sequence from 2.493   0.095 Ma, near the beginning of the Lower Pleistocene, through to 0.118 0.030 Ma near the Middle to Upper Pleistocene transition. It includes the first entirely new area of Oldowan localities in East Africa south of Ethiopia for thirty years, and the first in a rugged mountainous setting. On the southern outward flanks of Kilombe mountain, a second major sequence is bounded at the base by trachyphonolite and a tuff yielding dates in the range 1.58–1.50 Ma. The main Acheulean archaeological site (GqJh1) falls within the overlying sedimentary sequence and has an age of c. 1.0 Ma, on the basis of a new 40Ar/39Ar date for the Three-Banded Tuff and palaeomagnetic reversal stratigraphy. Further 40Ar/39Ar dates indicate an age of c. 0.48–0.46 Ma for a marker ashflow tuff (AFT), prominent across the area. At Moricho, west of Kilombe, sediments above the AFT have been dated in the range 270,000–120,000 years and are associated with Middle Stone Age assemblages. In total, these sites attest to hominin activity from an Oldowan horizon dated to 1.8 Ma up to Later Stone Age stone scatters within the last 100,000 years.

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