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2022-08-27 16:44:55   •   ID: 2345

Back to Melka Kunture: The MSA of Kella

Figure 1
Melka Kunture is a cluster of prehistoric sites in the upper Awash valley, 50 km south of Addis Ababa, and was already introduced into the Blog earlier- see here 1192 , here: 1233 and here 2026 .

Compared to the Oldowan and the Acheulian, the MSA at Melka Kunture is poorly known. Garba III and the nearby Gondar locality are the most important locations for this issue.

Remains of „Archaic Homo Sapiens“ have been detected at Garba III, incorporated within the slightly disturbed MSA strata and is currently suggested to belong to MIS 6.

As described earlier, Homo Sapiens – as morphologically defined by the possession of a number of skeletal traits- appeared for the first time in Africa within the temporal span between MIS 9 and MIS 6. Skeletal remains are currently known from East / South and Northern Africa.

At Godeti, incorporated within the "Sables Rouges" and at Kella from the surface, Bailloud in 1965 reported a non-Levallois MSA, made from high quality Obsidian, which exhibits sophisticated bifacial tools, comparable to the implements which are shown in this post.

In his publication, Bailloud called bifacial crescent Obsidian tools, comparable to the first piece in Figure 1 as knifes (" Couteaux Renformes"). Anyhow these artifacts do not have a back, so that the designation: scraper seems to be more appropriate.

In the East African MSA, tools are mainly characterized by „points“ with unifacial and bifacial retouch on non-Levallois and Levallois blanks, partially made from Nubian cores.

This is for example the case at Gademotta (ETH-72-8B before 276±4 k.a BP; ETH-72-6 after 183±10 k.a BP) and at Kulkuletti (200–300 k.a BP) and Aduma ( ca 60-80 k.a. BP).

It is possible that the good workmanship of the stone tools at Gademotta and Kulkuletti as well as at Godeti and Kella at Melka Kunture is best explained by the excellent quality of the raw material and in this respect, as already noted by Gérard Bailloud, is typological similar to the much later South African Stillbay and some "Fauresmith"- ensembles.

Typologically, bifacial crescent scrapers are otherwise unknown from the East African MSA and have their next counterparts in the Crimean Micoquian of MIS 5-3- certainly a convergence phenomenon.

Provenance: Museum Collection housed in Addis Abeba; photography with permission (1984)

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