Facing the palimpsest conundrum: an archaeo-stratigraphic approach to the intra-site analysis of SHK Extension (Bed II, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania)

Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
In recent years, a “high-resolution” archaeological approach is being successfully applied in a number of Paleolithic intra-site spatial analyses. This perspective encompasses the integration of data provided by a number of sources (such as soil micro-morphology, archaeo-stratigraphy, site formation studies, or lithic conjoining) in order to identify minimal behavioral entities in archaeological palimpsests. To date, this type of approach has been applied to African ESA contexts only cursorily. Here, we present the results of our methodological effort in order to make progress towards meeting some of the basic standards of current high-resolution approaches in the East African ESA record, revolving around the concept of synchronicity. This approach has been applied to the newly discovered site of SHK Extension, adjacent to and pene-contemporaneous with the classical SHK Main site (Olduvai Gorge), where a total area of 30 m2 has been unearthed. By a detailed archaeo-stratigraphic study of the archaeological sequence, in combination with other procedures focusing on the micro scale of the spatial analysis, we can confidently dissect the different archaeo-units of this anthropogenic aggregate. These archaeo-units must be interpreted as micro-palimpsests showing a level of synchronicity as accurate as possible. In the present work, this methodology constitutes the referential criterion for assemblage grouping and it is the baseline for the subsequent technological study of the different anthropogenic entities identified at SHK Extension.