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Bed II Phytolith Palaeolandscapes (1.5-1.1 Ma) at Oldupai Gorge, Tanzania

Makarius P. Itambu


The primary approach for reconstructing ancient plant landscapes is normally through the analysis of environmental proxy data and ultimately the application of the data from plant micro-remains to infer the vegetation patterns, distribution, and nature of past environments. Phytolith analyses serve as an important tool for identifying different micro-ecological niches in which human activities occurred. They are indicative of certain plant types and vegetation patterns, and the way in which plant landscapes respond to regional climate changes. Hence, in order to understand the ancient plant landscape of the Pleistocene Bed II sites of Oldupai Gorge 1.5 to 1.1 million years ago (Ma), a location inhabited by our early ancestors, the phytoliths research was conducted in order to reconstruct the ancient plant environments of Oldupai’s Bed II sites, namely Sam Howard Korongo (SHK), Thiongo Korongo (TK), and Bell’s Korongo (BK) because there is no enough phytolith data from these upper sections of Bed II. The preliminary results from this study indicate that TK and BK sites’ plant landscape was dominated by arboreal plants.

Keywords:   Phytolith, hominin, palaeoecology, palaeoenvironments, palaeolandscape