Long-distance stone transport and pigment use in the earliest Middle Stone Age

Alison S. Brooks, John E. Yellen, Richard Potts, Anna K. Behrensmeyer, Alan L. Deino, David E. Leslie, Stanley H. Ambrose, Jeffrey R. Ferguson, Francesco D'Errico, Andrew M. Zipkin, Scott Whittaker, Jeffrey Post, Elizabeth G. Veatch, Kimberly Foecke, Jennifer B. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research suggests that the complex symbolic, technological, and socioeconomic behaviors that typify Homo sapiens had roots in the middle Pleistocene <200,000 years ago, but data bearing on human behavioral origins are limited. We present a series of excavated Middle Stone Age sites from the Olorgesailie basin, southern Kenya, dating from ≥295,000 to ~320,000 years ago by argon-40/argon-39 and uranium-series methods. Hominins at these sites made prepared cores and points, exploited iron-rich rocks to obtain red pigment, and procured stone tool materials from ≥25- to 50-kilometer distances. Associated fauna suggests a broad resource strategy that included large and small prey. These practices imply notable changes in how individuals and groups related to the landscape and to one another and provide documentation relevant to human social and cognitive evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-94
Number of pages5
Issue number6384
StatePublished - 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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