Before Farming

Palaeoecological reconstruction and hominid land use of the Lake Natron basin during the Early Pleistocene

Before Farming (2002), 2002, (3-4), 1–36.

Abstract

Land use models ecologically derived from modern east African savanna dynamics have been used for modelling Olduvai Gorge in the Early Pleistocene, and provide an ecological framework in which archaeological hypotheses could be tested (Peters & Blumenschine 1995; Blumenschine & Peters 1998). The present work applies the same ecologically derived criteria to a first-generation model of hominid land use in west Lake Natron, geographically close to the Olduvai region. In this area, Plio-Pleistocene archaeological sites have been discovered at Peninj. This information widens and helps refine the ecological scope used for Olduvai, given the proximity in space and the similar chronology for the palaeoecosystems analysed. Several important environmental and geological factors and variables differentiate Peninj from Olduvai. A lower altitude, lower precipitation, a more open environment, fewer plant resources, and greater competition with carnivores for prey would have made Peninj an ecologically unique location. Hominids at Peninj probably exhibited a different behaviour than those at Olduvai to overcome the selective criteria that made adaptation more difficult.

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Downey, Clare

Domínguez-Rodrigo, Manuel

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