African archaeology by D W Phillipson

By D W Phillipson

During this totally revised and accelerated variation of his seminal archaeological survey, David Phillipson offers a lucid, totally illustrated account of African prehistory, from the origins of humanity to the time of eu colonisation, and demonstrates the relevance of archaeological learn to an realizing of Africa today.

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The focus of research then shifted to the exceptionally significant sites in the western part of the basin (J. M. Harris et al. 1988). At times between 4 and 2 million years ago the area drained to the Indian Ocean, but both before and afterwards it has comprised a closed basin with no outlet except an overflow channel to the Nile which functions only when the Lake Turkana waters reach a very high level (Butzer 1980; Harvey and Grove 1982). The height and size of the lake have thus fluctuated considerably; it and its feeder rivers have laid down complex series of sediments, up to 1000 metres thick in places, in which hominid and other fossils are exceptionally well preserved.

It has long been recognised that such terms cannot be precisely defined, but their informal use has continued, often at the expense of clarity; they are avoided here. A further source of misunderstanding is the conventional application to types of stone artefact of names such as ‘scraper’ or ‘arrowhead’ which carry The emergence of humankind in Africa 19 an implication as to function, when there is in fact little if any definite information as to how the tools were actually used. In this book, the attempt has been made to restrict use of such functional terms to cases where there is good evidence as to the use to which artefacts were originally put, although it is recognised that some element of subjectivity necessarily remains.

Africanus. The genus Homo also occurs throughout the sequence. The early form, which some would attribute to a largebrained form of H. habilis or to H. rudolfensis, is best represented by the ‘1470’ skull discussed above. ) boisei in riverine situations (Behrensmeyer 1976). Concentrations of artefacts have been excavated at Koobi Fora, but unfortunately they are rarely in direct association with the hominid fossils. 8 million years ago (Isaac et al. 1976; Isaac and Harris 1978; Isaac 1997). The KBS site appears to have been originally located in the sandy bed of a seasonal stream and its area was perhaps restricted by the availability of shade.

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