The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Spatial analysis of bone recovered from FxJj 20 AB, Koobi Fora, Kenya with implications to early hominin behavior


Anthropology, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

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The importance of fire in human society is widely recognized though the timing of controlled use of fire by humans is a subject of great debate. The site complex of FxJj 20 on the Karari Escarpment along the eastern margin of the Koobi Fora basin in northern Kenya has been hypothesized to preserve evidence of ancient humanly-controlled fires since its discovery in 1973. The site of FxJj 20 AB, within the complex, is preserved in undisturbed floodplain silts and shows no evidence of sorting on the site. Excavations on the site took place in 1973, 2010 and 2012. The current study aims to test the use of fire by hominins at FxJj 20 AB through spatial analysis of the faunal bone recovered from the site. Burned bone investigated through a spatial framework can rule out alternative explanations for sites with evidence of fire, such as those in the FxJj 20 site complex. Approximately 650 specimens of bone, recovered in situ during the 2010 and 2012 field seasons, were used in the study and classified based on the size, type and potential alteration (i.e burning) of the bone. Spatial analysis studies are being used to compare the different categories of bone. Preliminary results of these analyses indicate segregation of bone by classification categories. In conjunction with other work being done on the project, this study provides evidence supporting hominin processing activities in conjunction with fire.

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