SE Ethiopia Survey

sootheastern Ethiopia SurveyThe horn of Africa is a critical, yet poorly understood, region in terms of the origins and dispersal of modern humans. It was also a point of entry, many thousands of years later, for pastoralists who brought Near Eastern and, later still, South Asian domestic livestock into southern Africa. To date, only a handful of stratified sites that document the later prehistory in the horn of Africa have been discovered, and our knowledge concerning this critical phase of prehistory is still very limited. The Mesozoic limestones of the Antalo Formation in southeastern Ethiopia, which outcrop extensively in the southern wall of the Rift Valley around Harar, contain numerous karstic caves, suitable for prehistoric occupation and the preservation of archaeological remains. In 2007, we initiated exploratory research in southeastern Ethiopia and identified about two dozen caves and rock shelters with evidence of Middle Stone Age (MSA) and Later Stone Age (LSA) occupation, some previously reported by other researchers but none of which had been adequately studied. In 2008, we carried out test excavations at a number of these sites, continued to survey for new sites in new areas, collected speleothems and other samples for palaeoclimatic reconstruction and radiometric dating, and undertook systematic documentation of the rock art. In 2011, we expanded the excavation at Goda-Buticha and collected more samples for radiometric dating.