Late Pleistocene artefacts and fauna from Rusinga and Mfangano islands, Lake Victoria, Kenya

Christian A. Tryon, Daniel J. Peppe, J. Tyler Faith, Alex Van Plantinga, Sheila Nightingale, Julian Ogondo, David L. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Surveys and excavations in 2009-2011 recovered fossil and artefact assemblages from late Pleistocene sediments on Rusinga and Mfangano islands (Lake Victoria, Kenya). Radiometric age estimates suggest that the Rusinga material dates to between 100 and 33 kya, whereas that from Mfangano may date to 35 kya. The preservation of a large and diverse suite of vertebrate fossils is unusual for Pleistocene sites in the Lake Victoria region and the composition of the faunal assemblages from both islands strongly suggest an open, arid, grassland setting very different from that found in western Kenya today. Middle Stone Age (MSA) artefacts from Rusinga and possible Later Stone Age (LSA) or MSA/LSA assemblages from Mfangano are distinct from Lupemban MSA sites characteristic of the Lake Victoria region and instead share a number of typological and technological features with late Pleistocene sites from open grassland settings in the East African Rift System. This highlights the complex roles that shifting environments, as well as temporal change, may have played in the development of regional variation among Equatorial African artefact assemblages in the Pleistocene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-38
Number of pages25
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2012


  • Lake Victoria
  • Later Stone Age
  • Middle Stone Age
  • Quaternary
  • aridity

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