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Deconstructing Olduvai: A Taphonomic Study of the Bed I Sites

Series: Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology Series

By: Manuel Dominguez-Rodrigo, Rebeca Barba and Charles P Egeland

337 pages, diagrams, illus


Hardback | Jul 2007 | #166343 | ISBN-13: 9781402061509
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £85.50 $105/€96 approx

About this book

The Olduvai Bed I archaeological sites, dating back to almost 2 million years, have been at the epicenter of the debate on how early humans were. The present book presents a new analytical approach which, after having been applied to these sites, produced unexpected results: the association of stone tools and faunal remains at most Olduvai Bed I sites is accidental and not related to hominid behavior. Only at one site, FLK Zinj, is this association intentional. Through careful taphonomic analysis of this site coupled with detailed experimental work, it can be possible to out-rule the hypothesis that hominids were passive scavengers. Hominids were targeting meat in the exploitation of animals, which they probably obtained through some degree of predation, and their behavior seems to have been more advanced than previously thought.

From the reviews: "The book is divided into 16 chapters. ! The monograph is data-rich, with abundant tables for each studied strata listing species and skeletal part representation, as well as graphical summaries of the locations of each individual surface modification (whether by hominin or carnivore) on bovid long bones. ! Deconstructing Olduvai is an important paleoanthropological contribution ! ." Christian A. Tryon, Journal of Mammalian Evolution, 2008. "This volume provides a fresh look at an old issue -- i.e. that hominins were primary agents in the formation of these sites -- and suggests that site formation is heterogeneous and complicated during Bed I times at Olduvai Gorge." Journal of Human Evolution, 31 August 2009


1. The home base debate - M. Dominguez-Rodrigo, C.P. Egeland, R. Barba 2. The hunting-scavenging debate - M. Dominguez-Rodrigo, C.P. Egeland, R. Barba 2.1 Introduction 2.2 The use and misuse of skeletal part profiles 2.3 The ecology of scavenging 2.4 Testing the passive scavenging hypothesis 3. The "Physical Attribute" Taphonomic Approach - M. Dominguez-Rodrigo, C.P. Egeland, R. Barba 3.1 Introduction 3.2 Analytical parameters of the Physical Attribute Taphonomic Approach 3.3 Referential frameworks of the Physical Attribute Taphonomic Approach 3.4 Reflections on the validity of actualistic frameworks for interpreting early hominid behavior 4. Geological and paleoecological overview of Olduvai Gorge - C. P. Egeland, M. Dominguez-Rodrigo, R. Barba 4.1 Introduction 4.2 Geology and paleoecology 5. New estimates of tooth mark and percussion mark frequencies at the FLK Zinj level: the carnivore-hominid-carnivore hypothesis falsified (I) - M Dominguez-Rodrigo & R. Barba 5.1 Introduction 5.2 Sample and methods 5.3 Biochemical marks in modern and fossil bone assemblages 5.4 Results 5.5 Discussion 6. The behavioral meaning of cut marks at the FLK Zinj level: the carnivore-hominid-carnivore hypothesis falsified (II). - M Dominguez-Rodrigo & R. Barba 6.1 Introduction 6.2 Cut mark frequencies at FLK Zinj 6.3 Anatomical distribution of flesh on felid kills 6.4 Cut mark frequencies in Hot Zones: modern butchery experiments 6.5 Cut mark frequencies in Hot Zones: the FLK Zinj assemblage 6.6 Conclusion 7. A cautionary tale about early archaeological sites: a re-analysis of FLK North 6 - M Dominguez-Rodrigo, R. Barba, I. De la Torre & R. Mora 7.1 Introduction 7.2 The FLK North 6 faunal assemblage 7.3 Taphonomic analysis of FLK North 6 7.4 Review of the arguments supporting an anthropogenic origin of FLK North 6 7.5 The analysis of the lithic assemblage 7.6 Conclusions 8. A palimpsest at FLK N 1-2: independent carnivore- and hominid-made bone accumulations - M Dominguez-Rodrigo & R. Barba 8.1 Introduction 8.2 Results 8.3 Discussion 8.4 Conclusions 9. A taphonomic study of FLK N 3&4: a felid-hyenid and hominid palimpsest - M Dominguez-Rodrigo & E. Organista 9.1 Introduction 9.2 Results 9.3 Conclusions 10. Zooarchaeology and taphonomy of FLK North 5 - C.P. Egeland 10.1 Introduction 10.2 The FLKN 5 faunal assemblage 10.3 Discussion and conclusions 11. Natural background bone assemblages and their ravaging stages in Bed I - M Dominuez-Rodrigo & E. Organista 11.1 Introduction 11.2 Samples, analysis and results 11.3 Measuring carnivore ravaging 11.4 Conclusions 12. FLK NN1: "living floor" or natural accumulation? - R. Barba & M Dominguez-Rodrigo 12.1 Introduction 12.2 Results 12.3 Discussion and conclusions 13. Zooarchaeology and taphonomy of FLK North North 2 - C. P. Egeland 13.1 Introduction 13.2 The FLK North North faunal assemblage 13.3 Discussion and conclusions 14. Re-analysis of FLKNN 3: yet another case of a palimpsest? - M Dominguez-Rodrigo & R. Barba 14.1 Introduction 14.2 Sample and method 14.3 Results 14.4 Analysis of the lithic assemblage 14.5 Discussion 14.6 Conclusion 15. Zooarchaeology and taphonomy of the DK site - C.P. Egeland 15.1 Introduction 15.2 The DK faunal assemblage 15.3 Discussion and conclusions

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Manuel Dominguez-Rodrigo is a professor of Archaeology in the Department of Prehistory of the Complutense University, Madrid. He is co-editor of Journal of Taphonomy. He has been the head of research projects on human evolution conducted in Peninj, Eyasi and Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania), as well as having participated in research conducted in Gona (Ethiopia) and Swartkrans (South Africa). He is associate researcher of the National Museums of Kenya. Rebeca Barba got her doctorate in Archaeology in the Complutense University under the supervision of MDR. She has conducted research in Peninj and Olduvai. He is associate researcher of the National Museums of Kenya. Charles P. Egeland recently recieved his Ph.D. in Anthropology from Indiana University in Bloomington. In addition to his work in Tanzania, he has conducted field and lab research in South Africa, Kenya, Germany and several U.S. states.

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