Evidence of climate change in the lower Pleistocene site of El Kherba (Algeria) and its possible impact on hominid activities, at 1.7 Ma
Recently discovered, the site of El Kherba is part of the Plio-Pleistocene site complex of Ain Hanech (Algeria). The archaeological excavations conducted at this site have yielded a fossil fauna associated with a rich lithic industry recovered from three distinct archaeological levels. The fauna is savanna type comprising elephants, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, equids, suids, large and small bovids, girafids, carnivores, lagomorphs, and crocodiles. The lithic industry is Oldowan (Mode I technology) similar to the one known from East African Plio-Pleistocene sites. The site is estimated to date to 1.7 million years ago (Ma). One of the research aspects undertaken at the site is the reconstruction of the prevailing ecology relative to hominid behavior. The fauna suggests an open and arid landscape, in particular during the archaeological level A, corroborated by carbon stable isotope (δ13C) analysis of pedogenic carbonates along the El Kherba stratigraphic profile. The open environment is correlated with an increasing temporal aridification, which seemingly impacted negatively hominid foraging activities, particularly during level A.