The Kanjera Prehistoric Site, located on the Homa Peninsula on the southern shore of the Winam Gulf of Lake Victoria, is the place where the oldest archaeological evidence of early human activities in a grassland environment was discovered.
Most of the excavation works here, which began in 1987 by a joint team comprising the Smithsonian and the National Museums of Kenya, have concentrated around Kanjera South. The tools found on this site are what is known as Oldowan.
It is during these excavations that the team discovered the oldest archaeological evidence of early human activities in a grassland environment. Since this discovery, the site has yielded about 3,700 fossils and 2,900 such artefacts – making it the largest Oldowan collection found so far.
At the Kanjera Prehistoric Site, this Oldowan stone tool industry seems to have thrived for centuries. The industry, named after Olduvai Gorge, where Louis Leakey first discovered their existence in the 1930s, was typically composed of simple pebble tools such as choppers, scrapers and pounders which were a type of technology used from about 2.6 to 1.7 million years ago.
It appears that, from the evidence at the site, hominins were transporting materials from relatively distant locations to produce efficient tools for butchering animals, particularly small antelopes, that they had hunted.
It also appears that the same early men scavenged medium-sized bovid heads as a separate but complementary activity as early as 2 million years ago – some 200,000 to 500,000 years earlier than the previous earliest evidence for persistent hominin carnivory!
Cut marks found made by stone blades on fossil bones provide evidence of this spectacular discovery. Exploratory work still continued under the leadership of Dr Tom Plummer, now chairman of the Anthropology Department at Queens College, City University of New York.