Early Hominid Activities at Olduvai
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The earliest sites at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania are among the best documented and most important for studies of human evolution. This book investigates the behavior of hominids at Olduvai using data of stone tools and animal bones, as well as the results of work in taphonomy (how animals become fossils), the behavior of mammals, and a wide range of ecological theory and data. By illustrating the ways in which modern and prehistoric evidence is used in making interpretations, the author guides the reader through the geological, ecological, and archeological areas involved in the study of humans.
Based on his study of the Olduvai excavations, animal life, and stone tools, the author carefully examines conventional views and proposals about the early Olduvai sites. First, the evidence of site geology, tool cut marks, and other clues to the formation of the Olduvai sites are explored. On this basis, the large mammal communities in which early hominids lived are investigated, using methods which compare sites produced mainly by hominids with others made by carnivores. Questions about hominid hunting, scavenging, and the importance of eating meat are then scrutinized. The leading alternative positions on each issue are discussed, providing a basis for understanding some of the most contentious debates in paleo-anthropology today.
The dominant interpretive model for the artifact and bone accumulations at Olduvai and other Plio-Pleistocene sites has been that they represent "home bases," social foci similar to the campsites of hunter-gatherers. Based on paleo-ecological evidence and ecological models, the author critically analyzes the home base interpretation and proposes alternative views. A new view of the Olduvai sitesâ that they represent stone caches where hominids processed carcasses for foodâ is shown to have important implications for our understanding of hominid social behavior and evolution.
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... FLK "Zinj," where the first Plio-Pleistocene fossil of Australopithecus in East Africa was found—occurred in a zone of sediments laid down on the border of an ancient lake that no longer exists. The expansions and contractions of this ...
... FLK complex (see Figure 2. 1b). This investigation into the activities of early hominids at Olduvai focuses on six levels excavated in Bed I. In stratigraphic order from top to bottom these levels are: FLK North Level 61 FLK "Zinj ...
... FLK 50 37 130 12.0 2258 740 2 1516 22 North—6 FLK 9 290 2647 72. 4 40,172" 614 68 15,247 36 “Zinj” FLKNN-2 24 186 0 0 478 324 0 154'I 23 FLKNN-3 9 209 72 13.8 2261 390 1578 293'I 34 DK-2 68 345 1163" 93.9" 5422 832 3530 1000 41 DK-3 9 ...
... FLK "Zinj," is characterized by a small cranial capacity (530 cc) relative to facial size. The cranium is robust with high crested markings for muscles involved in mastication. The molars and premolars provided a large occlusal area ...
... FLK "Zinj" and FLKNN-3. The layers at these sites, like DK-3, were about as thick as the objects they contained, and both exhibited signs of having been old land surfaces—slightly weathered and marked by root casts. FLK. This site is ...