Late pliocene hominid occupation in Central Africa: the setting, context, and character of the Senga 5A site, Zaire

J. W K Harris, P. G. Williamson, J. Verniers, M. J. Tappen, K. Stewart, D. Helgren, J. de Heinzelin, N. T. Boaz, R. V. Bellomo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

Senga 5A is a late Pliocene archaeological occurrence discovered in 1985 on the eastern bank of the Semliki River in the Western Rift Valley of eastern Zaire. Excavations in 1985 and 1986 yielded stone artifacts of an Oldowan character, fossil mammal, reptile, fish, and mollusc remains, as well as coprolites and fossil wood. The site is situated in low-energy lacustrine deposits indicative of a shallow, littoral or paludal setting. Paleoenvironmental reconstruction indicates that a savanna mosaic existed in the Upper Semliki in the late Pliocene. Dating estimates based on faunal correlation indicate an age of about 2·0-2·3 million years B.P. making it the earliest archaeological site of its size and state of preservation currently known in Africa. As the westernmost Oldowan site known in Africa, Senga 5A significantly expands our knowledge of the geographic range of early tool using hominids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)701-728
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Volume16
Issue number7-8
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1987

Keywords

  • Late Pliocene
  • Oldowan artifacts
  • Western Rift
  • Zaire
  • climatic change

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