Middle Stone Age archaeology at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania

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This paper describes the motivation, procedures, and results of archaeological and geological field survey of the Ndutu Unit, Olduvai Gorge, conducted in June and July of 2013. Survey focused upon the area of Olduvai Gorge between the second fault and the Obalbal depression, although selective survey occurred in other areas in and around the Gorge. Over 72 archaeological find-spots were recorded, and hundreds of Middle Stone Age (MSA) artifacts were recovered, as was a small sample of fauna. Geological observations provisionally suggest that the Ndutu was formed, in part, from a series of pyroclastic density flow and ash fallout events from neighbouring volcanoes; this contrasts slightly with previous interpretations of the deposits in that at least some of the beds are thought to be in primary stratigraphic context. Our initial field findings are conducive to discussions of a number of issues directly relevant to the MSA in East Africa, and overall we conclude that there is strong potential for Olduvai's Ndutu Unit to shed light on the behavior, adaptations, and evolution of Homo sapiens prior to, during, and just after its physical emergence. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

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Quaternary International