Landscape-scale variability and the Acheulean: Olorgesailie Formation, Kenya

Photo: Excavation at D14-10, 2007; Rick Potts overlooking Mountain Foot Site.

My work in the Olorgesailie Formation of Kenya has focused on the nature of behavioral variability expressed among Middle Pleistocene populations of hominins; likely Homo erectus or an allied form.  Specifically, I have sought to understand how the use of the stone raw material used for tools relates to other proxies of ancient environments and the predictability of resources.  My work with Rick Potts (Smithsonian Institution) suggests that hominin conservation of stone as a scarce resource is related to the availability or predictability of other resources (e.g., food and water).  Sites from the upper portion of Member 11’ that I studied showed little conservation of stone raw material, and appear to relate to an interval when the landscape contained a number of well-defined stream channels that provided a variety of predictably available resources.  In addition to work on material from landscape-scale excavations in Member 11’ by Potts, I also directed excavations in Member 14, the youngest package of sediments in the Olorgesailie Formation.


Tryon, Christian & Richard Potts
2011 Approaches for understanding flake production in the African Acheulean. PaleoAnthropology 2011:376-389. pdf

Project director

Rick Potts, Smithsonian Institution