The Early Pleistocene archaeological sites on the west side of Late Turkana are some of the richest areas for early hominin behavioral research in the world. Dozens of sites provide large quantities of stone tools made on a range of different raw materials. Intensive archaeologists studies in this area attempt to reconstruct hominin movements and use of local resources in these areas. During this time, around 2 million years ago, a lot of things started to change. New hominin species emerged (such as Homo erectus), some environments in eastern Africa became drier and more open, and hominins began to make new stone tools in new ways.
The students enjoyed a whirlwind tour of archaeological and paleoanthropological sites around the Nariokotome region during our final overnight trip. It took us about 6 hours in the TBI lorry to finally make it up north – and it was well worth the drive! En route to our camp at Nariokotome, we stopped at the Lokalalei Early Pleistcoene sites(~2.3 million years old) to practice some archaeological survey skills. Before the discovery at Lomekwi, the Lokalalei sites were some of only a handful of the world’s oldest archaeological sites. These sites are rich with material, boasting thousands of stone tools. Archaeologists have even been able to refit some of these tools back together to reconstruct how they were made by hominins over 2 million years ago! Through intensive studies of these tools, the data suggest that hominins had fairly advanced skills in tool-making (perhaps even better than some of our new TBI knapping novices) even during this early time. Hominins selected the best raw materials for the job and produced the tools using an organized and well thought out approach. The students performed a surface survey to locate stone tools that have recently eroded out of the archaeological site. These sites are so rich that even after over a decade of research new stone tools can still be found there.