About human origins
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Our goal is to catalog and map every prehistoric archaeology site over 10,000 years old on the planet.
The Mumbwa Caves are an archeological site in Zambia. The site has yielded artifacts that date from the Mesolithic, Neolithic and the Iron Age. The caves are a source of stratified, in situ deposits with faunal and human remains. Mumbwa, with its interior structures, demonstrates the complexity of the behavioral abilities of the people from the Mesolithic. Selection of raw materials along with features such as hearths suggests a population which was modern in its behaviors used to inhabit the Mumbwa Caves. Study and excavation of the Mumbwa Caves is helping to fill in the gaps in the late Pleistocene prehistory of south central Africa.
The Kalemba Rockshelter is an archaeology site located in eastern Zambia, at coordinates 14°7 S and 32°3 E. Local tradition recalls the use of the rock shelter as a refuge during the time of Ngoni raiding in the 19th century. The site is known for various rock paintings as well as advanced microlithic use.
Radiocarbon dates suggest that human occupation covered about 37,000 years at Kalemba. If the hypothesis that dates GX-2767 and GX-2768 are better represented by the dating to around 13,000 years BCE, then according to Phillipson, Phillipson the remaining dates are consistent and form a series that suggests several periods of occupation that follow: period 1, before 35,000 years BCE; period 2, c. 25,000 to 21,000 years BCE; Period 3, c. 15,000 to 11,000 years BCE, and period 4 < 6,000 years BCE.
The Kalambo structure is a Lower Palaeolithic wooden structure, of which two pieces have been uncovered along with other wooden tools. Discovered at the site of Kalambo Falls, Zambia, it is currently the oldest known wooden structure, determined through luminescence dating to be at least 476,000 years old and predating Homo sapiens.
The structure consists of two interlocking wooden logs of large-fruited bushwillow (Combretum zeyheri), connected by a notch securing one perpendicular to the other. The smaller log, measuring 141.3 cm (55.6 in) in length, has tapered ends as well as a U-shaped notch and overlies the larger log, which passes through the notch. According to Duller, the structure probably would have been part of a wooden platform used as a walkway, to keep food or firewood dry, or perhaps as a base on which to build a dwelling. The discovery could indicate that the hominins who lived at Kalambo Falls may have had a settled lifestyle, which could challenge the prevailing view that Stone Age hominins had a nomadic lifestyle.
The notch in the upper log shows evidence of having been made through scraping and adzing, with fire use also hinted at by infrared spectroscopy. The underlying trunk shows evidence of striations with V-shaped cutmarks, both at its midpoint and along the narrowed end going through the notch, also indicative of possible scraping.
Using luminescence dating, the logs were dated to 476±23 kya. Carbon dating confirmed their non-intrusive nature, reporting an age higher than the maximum range of 50 kya.
Another wooden log, showing tapered ends and a similar notch, had previously been described in Site B of Kalambo Falls, also from the Acheulean, although not conclusively identified as part of a hominid-made structure at the time.
The wooden tools found along with the structure include a wedge and a digging stick. They have been found in several areas across the BLB site, and are younger than the structure itself, having been dated to between 390,000 and 324,000 years ago.
The Kabwe mine or Broken Hill mine is a former lead smelting and mining site near Kabwe, Zambia, that operated from 1906 to 1994. At its peak, between 1925 and 1974, it was owned by Anglo American plc and was Africa's largest lead producer. The mine produced extremely toxic lead pollution for ninety years. Several studies have confirmed that over 100,000 people near the mine, including tens of thousands of children, suffer from lead poisoning. Kabwe is one of the world's most polluted towns.
In 1921, a "bone cave" that included a fossilised human skull called Kabwe 1 was discovered in the mine. This fossil was the first remains of an extinct human relative to be found in Africa. The skull was studied by Arthur Smith Woodward of the British Museum of Natural History, who published a paper naming the new human precursor Homo rhodesiensis. Study of the Kabwe skull has had important implications for understanding of human evolution and prehistory.
The mine was privatised and closed by the Zambian government in 1995. In 2021, there were still about five million tons of mine tailings on the site, and the Zambian government had licensed reprocessing of this waste and further mining by the South African company Jubilee Metals. The area is also mined by artisanal miners. All of these activities pose ongoing health risks for local communities by releasing additional lead.
In July 2021, UN special rapporteurs urged the Zambian government to remediate the toxic site. Human rights and environmental organisations also urged the government to address the pollution and resulting health problems in local communities. A lawsuit against Anglo American concerning the pollution was ongoing in South Africa in 2023.