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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... occurred in the sixth. The remains were found in both thin and thick layers of sediment (approximately 9-68 cm thick) and concentrated in areas about 10-20 m in diameter. Each of these levels and the debris they contained are referred ...
... occur. The home base interpretation of archeological sites 2 million years old implies that, by that time, these distinctive characteristics had already started to evolve in concert. Traditionally, archeologists have drawn similarities ...
... occur in the sediments at Olduvai. Are the artifacts present in unusually high concentrations, as might be expected at an important area of hominid activity? Or are they only thinly scattered, as artifacts discarded over an ancient land ...
... occurred. During this time, the lake was smallest, on the average, than at any other period of Bed I. During the ... occurs at Olduvai today (about 566 mm of rainfall per year) (Hay, 1976; Cerling, Hay, and O'Neil, 1977; Cerling and Hay ...
... occur at Olduvai today, are especially abundant in Middle Bed I at these two localities. Several murid genera that live in the Serengeti region today are preserved in Bed I. Their presence suggests a variety of specific habitats: high ...