The Current Status of the Kenya Capsian
African Archaeological Review
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Wilshaw, A. (2016). The Current Status of the Kenya Capsian. African Archaeological Review, 33 13-27. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10437-016-9211-5
East Africa is home to a rich array of stone-tool traditions that span human prehistory. It is unsurprising, therefore, that the region attracted pioneer prehistorians in the early twentieth century, including L. S. B. Leakey, E. J. Wayland and T. P. O’Brien, who created the first cultural framework for East African prehistory during the 1930s. Although aspects of this framework remain relevant today, others have become misunderstood relics of an old classification system that hinders current research. This is particularly evident in the classification of a Later Stone Age (LSA) culture – the Kenya (East African) Aurignacian, later known as Kenya (East African) Capsian. Although this cultural entity was redressed during the 1970s and 1980s and redefined as the Eburran industry, there is still mystique surrounding the current status of the Kenya Capsian, its original scope and definition, the relationship with the Eburran and its position within a modern understanding of the East African LSA. This is largely due to paradigmatic shifts in researcher attitudes, leading to the use of the Eburran as a false proxy. It is necessary now to completely remove the term Kenya Capsian as an indication of similarity among the different LSA technologies. However, there also needs to be less emphasis on the importance of the Eburran and recognition that it is just one example of a multitude of diverse localised LSA industries. This will open the way for future research into the LSA and facilitate our greater understanding of recent prehistory in East Africa.
Later Stone Age, East African archaeology, Kenya Capsian, Eburran, Kenya Aurignacian
This work was funded by the European Research Council funded In Africa Project (ERC 295907); St. John’s College, Cambridge; the Smuts Fund and the Bartle Frere and Mary Euphrasia Moseley Fund, University of Cambridge; an Anthony Wilkin Studentship Department of Biological Anthropology, Cambridge; and a grant from The Louis S. B. Leakey Trust. Research was carried out through affiliation with the National Museums of Kenya (NMK/ESC/PAL/w/VOL.1) and with permission from the National Council of Science and Technology, Government of Kenya (Permit no: 2009-11: NCST/5/002/419 and 2012-15: NCST/5/002/419/9).
European Research Council (295907)
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External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10437-016-9211-5
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/252495
Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales
Licence URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/uk/