John Anthony Jamys Gowlett
Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationLiverpool, U. of
Grant numberGr. 10464
Approve DateApril 6, 2023
Project TitleGowlett, John (Liverpool, U. of) "Palaeoanthropology of Kilombe Caldera in the Central Rift Valley, Kenya"
Kilombe is an extinct volcano in the central Rift Valley of Kenya. Recent research has shown that its remarkable geological and archaeological records extend almost throughout the Pleistocene, and that its ancient caldera lake was the scene of extensive hominin activities at high levels in a type of rugged setting not previously known to have been occupied. Repeated volcanic ashfalls have covered clay land surfaces within the caldera, preserving fossil fauna with traces of butchery, and creating contexts reminiscent of well-known Olduvai Gorge Bed I sites. Our aim is to continue building stratigraphic records, undertaking multiproxy palaeoclimate work, and conducting archaeological excavations in the caldera, so as to cast further light on hominin adaptation. Multiple lines of evidence, including Argon/Argon dates and palaeomagnetic studies, already show major hominin activity in the span 1.8-1.6 million years. We are now endeavouring to extend this record, exploring several new early stone tool occurrences associated with fauna. In continuing investigation we have three main objectives: (1) to trace the archaeological record and its palaeoenvironments back towards the end of volcano formation (estimated ca. 2.3 Ma); (2) to explore new Oldowan occurrences found in 2022, and (3) to investigate further the later Oldowan/Acheulean transition zone.