Raw material selectivity in Late Pliocene Oldowan sites in the Makaamitalu Basin, Hadar, Ethiopia

Talia Goldman-Neuman*, Erella Hovers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


We report the results of an analysis of raw material selection patterns in the assemblages from two Late Pliocene in situ archaeological localities in the Makaamitalu Basin (Hadar, Ethiopia). While the same local conglomerate was used as a raw material source for both archaeological occurrences, different selection criteria are identified. At A.L. 894, selection for quality is subtle and the clearest selection is against non-homogeneous raw materials. In the A.L. 666 assemblage, higher-quality raw materials were selected and some rare raw materials reached the locality from unknown sources. A comparison between the Makaamitalu and other Oldowan assemblages reveals an overall shift toward higher complexity of both selectivity and transport behaviors from ca. 2.0 Ma onward, contrasting a typo-technological conservatism that pertains until ∼1.6 Ma. It is hypothesized that an increase in complexity of behaviors related to raw material selection and acquisition involved changes in the intensity and fidelity of technological knowledge transmission.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)353-366
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Fieldwork and laboratory work was carried out as part of the Hadar Research Project and was supported by the National Science Foundation (grant #BCS-0080378 to W. H. Kimbel and D. Johanson), the National Geographic Society (grant #7352-02 to E. Hovers), and grants to E. Hovers from the Leakey Foundation . We are grateful to the Institute of Human Origins for logistical help in this research. We thank the Ethiopian Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage and the director and staff of the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa for their help in carrying out this research. Thanks go to the Afar Regional Government and to the Afar people of the village of Eloha and the Hadar area, and especially to our field crew members, for their help and friendship.


  • Hadar
  • Land use
  • Lithic raw material selectivity
  • Makaamitalu Basin
  • Oldowan
  • Raw material transport


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