James K. Munene
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationMichigan, Ann Arbor, U. of
Grant numberGr. 10137
Approve DateApril 8, 2021
Project TitleMunene, James (Michigan, Ann Arbor, U. of) "The Ecological Context of Modern Human Evolution During the Middle Stone Age in Central Rift Valley, Kenya"
JAMES MUNENE, then a graduate student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, was awarded a grant in April 2021 to aid research on “The Ecological Context of Modern Human Evolution During the Middle Stone Age in Central Rift Valley, Kenya,” supervised by Dr. Brian A. Steward. The research project seeks to improve our understanding of the ecological contexts of modern human evolution in the Central Rift Valley, Kenya. Specifically, it proposes to test hypotheses about whether and how changes in lithic technology, ranging patterns, and social connectivity articulate with environmental shifts during the Late Quaternary. Funding assisted the systematic excavations at four MSA sites. These sites are Malewa Gorge 1, Ilkek 1, 2, and 3 between July and December 2021. Malewa Gorge 1, on the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) farm, is a west-facing exposure of paleosols, lacustrine sediments, volcanic ashes, and a basal conglomeratic alluvium. Ilkek 1, 2, and 3 were selected for excavation following a systematic survey of exposures along the Gilgil River near the volcanic hill known as Ilkek within the Marula Estate. Thousands of lithics recovered from the sites at the National Museums of Kenya were analyzed. We also collected approximately 50 tephra samples for chemical fingerprinting by electron microprobe. The project was also used to create an opportunity for over 10 Kenyan students to learn the various aspects of field and lab methods in archaeology.