Chronology of the Acheulean to Middle Stone Age transition in eastern Africa

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Deino, Alan L.; Behrensmeyer, Anna K.; Brooks, Alison S.; Yellen, John E.; Sharp, Warren D.; Potts, Richard
Year of Publication: 2018
Journal: Science
Date Published: 2018/03/15
Publication Language: eng

The origin of the Middle Stone Age (MSA) denotes the transition from a highly persistent mode of stone toolmaking, the Acheulean, to a period of increasing technological innovation and cultural indicators associated with the evolution of Homo sapiens. Here we use 40Ar/39Ar and U-series dating to calibrate the chronology of Acheulean- and early MSA-rich sedimentary deposits in the Olorgesailie Basin, South Kenya Rift. We establish the age of late Acheulean tool assemblages from 615 to 499 ka, after which a large technological and faunal transition occurred, with definitive MSA lacking Acheulean elements beginning most likely by ~320 ka, but at least by 305 ka. These results establish the currently oldest repository of MSA in eastern Africa.

Short Title: Science