Fredrick Kyalo Manthi

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

National Museums of Kenya

Grant number

Gr. 9705

Approve Date

October 5, 2018

Project Title

Manthi, Dr. Fredrick Kyalo, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya - To aid research on 'Further Investigations of the Middle Pleistocene Sites in Natodomeri, Northwestern Kenya'

DR. FREDRICK K. MANTHI, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya, was o aid research on “Further Investigations of the Middle Pleistocene Sites in Natodomeri, Northwestern Kenya.” Pliocene and early Pleistocene sites in the Omo-Turkana Basin in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia have yielded a rich record of faunal materials, including hominin fossils. In the basin, the time interval between 0.2 Myr and 0.01 Myr is so far only known in the Kibish Formation, which traverses both the Kenyan and Ethiopian sides. Presently, we do know that anatomically modern humans evolved between 200,000-300,000 years ago. The later Middle Pleistocene of East Africa is therefore an important time period for not only understanding the biological origins of H. sapiens but also for the behavioral evolution of this species. This period records the replacement of the large hand-held Acheulean stone tools, such as handaxes and cleavers, by more diverse and smaller MSA stone tools characterized by points, diverse disc core preparation technologies, including multiple Levallois techniques, and hafted tools. Overall, the paucity of well-dated later Middle Pleistocene palaeontological and archaeological sites in East Africa, limits our understanding of the Middle Pleistocene fauna, and has led to the perception that the behavior of the earliest H. sapiens was relatively homogenous and static. In order to better our understanding of the faunal species that lived around 0.2 Myr, sites that occur at Natodomeri (e.g., N 5.13 E 35.73) near the Kenya-Ethiopia border, and dated around 195 ka, have since 2015 been investigated for fossil remains by a West Turkana Paleo Project (WTPP) team led by the author. The sites have yielded large numbers of vertebrate fossil remains including numerous hominins. Because Middle Stone Age (MSA) stone tools have also been recorded at Natodomeri, archaeological investigations have also been carried-out at the sites by Dr. Nicholas Blegen of the University of Cambridge, and these have established the presence in the sites of a rich MSA archaeological record. In May-June 2019, further surveys were carried-out in the Natodomeri sites for a period of five weeks, and these surveys are the basis of this report.