Yonatan Sahle

Yonatan Sahle
University of Cape Town | UCT · Department of Archaeology

PhD

About

42
Publications
16,118
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334
Citations
Introduction
My main research focus is on the archaeology of modern human origins. I am also interested in early toolmaking, hominin carnivory, prehistoric weaponry, raw material transport, and ethnographic lithic use. I direct field research projects in a) newly-discovered Pleistocene hominid-bearing deposits in the Lower Awash basin, Afar Rift; b) rockshelters in the Arsi-Bale lowlands, east of the Main Ethiopian Rift.
Additional affiliations
February 2020 - present
University of Cape Town
Position
  • Senior Lecturer
October 2015 - December 2019
University of Tuebingen
Position
  • Group Leader
August 2013 - August 2015
University of California, Berkeley
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Education
September 2009 - June 2013

Publications

Publications (42)
Article
Full-text available
There is a general consensus that our species emerged first in Africa. Currently, the best-known skeletal evidence for the earliest anatomically modern Homo sapiens (AMHs) derives from sites in the rift valley in Ethiopia. However, archaeological evidence from cave sites in southern and northern Africa largely dominates discussions on behaviors tha...
Article
Full-text available
Zooarchaeologists have long relied on linear traces and pits found on the surfaces of ancient bones to infer ancient hominid behaviors such as slicing, chopping, and percussive actions during butchery of mammal carcasses. However, such claims about Plio–Pleistocene hominids rely mostly on very small assemblages of bony remains. Furthermore, recent...
Chapter
Full-text available
The later Middle Pleistocene witnessed the appearance of Homo sapiens anatomy , distinctive behaviors, and technologies collectively characterized as the "Middle Stone Age." these African developments are now documented to have been temporally and spatially more complex than previously conceptualized. Elucidating the origin of Homo sapiens and emer...
Article
Full-text available
Complex projectiles-propulsion via mechanical aid-are considered an important technological innovation, with possible relevance for the successful Out-of-Africa dispersal of our species. Conclusive evidence for the beginning of this technology, however, is lacking from the early Late Pleistocene (ca. 130 to 70 thousand years ago; ka). Given the ext...
Article
Full-text available
This exhibition showcases the results of archaeological research at three coastal sites in the southern Cape of South Africa: Blombos Cave, Klipdrift Shelter and Klasies River main sites. Part of a long-term programme aiming to make palaeosciences accessible to the public, the exhibition befittingly started more locally, first at Stellenbosch and t...
Article
Full-text available
The Halibee member of the Upper Dawaitoli Formation of Ethiopia’s Middle Awash study area features a wealth of Middle and Later Stone Age (MSA and LSA) paleoanthropological resources in a succession of Pleistocene sediments. We introduce these artifacts and fossils, and determine their chronostratigraphic placement via a combination of established...
Article
Two decades after Jon Kalb's memoir Adventures in the Bone Trade, this book offers yet another glimpse into the many faces of paleoan-thropological research in Ethiopia's Afar region and beyond. One might wonder from the beginning why the main protagonist would participate in a genre he previously characterized as a concoction of "science, adventur...
Presentation
The identification of archaeological bone surface modifications (BSMs) as anthropogenic in origin has been an important goal for zooarchaeology, with wide-ranging implications for our understanding of human evolution. Traditionally, the identification of BSM effectors (e.g. lithics or teeth) involves the examination of the morphological characteris...
Article
The dearth of securely dated assemblages in the Horn of Africa limits a comprehensive understanding of human adaptation across the Early Holocene. This paper presents results from initial analyses of lithic material from Dibé rockshelter in the Arsi lowlands, Ethiopia. Radiocarbon dates confirm occupation of Dibé rockshelter by hunter-gatherers dir...
Conference Paper
Homo sapiens exhibit extreme behavioural plasticity, mediated by culture and technology, that permits us to adapt rapidly to new environments and situations. Understanding the role that past climate change played in selecting for Homo sapiens’ adaptability is a key question in human evolution research. The arid and semi-arid Kalahari Basin in south...
Conference Paper
South Africa has an extraordinary record of human evolution spanning from our early hominin ancestors in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site, through to more recent evidence for the emergence of modern humans. Human evolution research in South Africa has received international attention for nearly a hundred years and has been vast and broad...
Presentation
The identification of actors and effectors of bone surface modifications (BSMs) in the archaeological record is often a source of contention. Many debates centre on whether a given archaeological BSM was made by stone tool-using hominins, carnivore predation, and/or trampling. More research has similarly attempted to accurately assess the agent of...
Article
Full-text available
The Stone Age record is longer and better documented in eastern Africa. Archaeological and fossil evidence derives particularly from sites within the Rift Valley of the region, often with secure radiometric age estimates. Despite a relatively late start and disproportionate focus on earlier periods and open-air sites within the rift, scientific res...
Article
Despite abundant Pleistocene calderas in the East African Rift and Afar, and the significance of regional tephra horizons for archaeological and paleoenvironmental dating, the entanglements of volcanoes and their eruptions with human behaviour and paleoecology have received little attention. Here, we focus on the intertwined human and eruptive hist...
Article
Full-text available
Recent paleoanthropological surveys conducted in the Lower Awash basin (Afar Rift) have led to the discovery of new localities. Here we announce and describe the latest addition to the roster of hominid-bearing research areas in this basin. Located east of the modern Awash River and west of the Megenta mountain ridge, localities in the new research...
Article
Full-text available
Archaeological reconnaissance and test excavation conducted in south-central Ethiopia reveal the region's rich Stone Age and Holocene archaeology. Ongoing lithic, faunal and dating analyses aim to understand chronological and behavioural contexts of prioritised rockshelters as part of a newly launched project. Speleothems in some of the caves promi...
Data
Metric data for the Aduma points discussed in the present study. (XLSX)
Chapter
Full-text available
Localities in the radiometrically dated upper Herto Member of Ethiopia’s Bouri Formation continue to produce new data that complement and extend initial reports of fossils and artifacts published in 2003. Results of these revisits are reported here and include the in situ recovery of artifacts from the same sediments containing hominid fossils. We...
Poster
Full-text available
Research at localities in the radioisotopically dated Upper and Lower Herto Members of Ethiopia’s Bouri Formation provides new data that complement and extend reports of fossils and artifacts first published by the Middle Awash research project in 2003. The new archaeological and paleontological data are from sediments dated to the later Middle Ple...
Book
Full-text available
Despite consensus on Africa's central place in the evolution of our species, the emergence of modern human populations and their dispersal out of the continent remain controversial topics. In this second installment of the DFG Center for Advanced Studies Series, scholars offer multidisciplinary perspectives, reviews, and original research reports o...
Article
Combining individual components into a single implement-i.e., hafting-conferred prehistoric populations more efficient toolkits, including projectile weapons. Hafting with the aid of adhesives is considered to have particularly given composite tools better reliability. The innovation of compound adhesives is specifically considered cognitively more...
Article
Full-text available
The paucity of archaeological evidence from the northern Afar Rift and Red Sea littoral remains a major hindrance to testing the hypothesised Out-of-Africa dispersal of early humans via the ‘Southern Route’—across the Bab al-Mandeb into Arabia and beyond. Encouraged by renewed geological studies (e.g. Atnafu et al . 2015), and recent archaeological...
Article
Douze and Delagnes (2016) revisit Middle Stone Age (MSA) lithic assemblages from the Gademotta Formation (Fm.), Ethiopia. Their analysis of selected assemblages from three of the 1972 excavations expands the original typo-technological interpretations by Wendorf and Schild (1974). We particularly welcome their evaluation of our recent inferences ab...
Article
Full-text available
Twenty-six Middle Stone Age obsidian artifacts from the Gademotta Formation were instrumentally characterized by energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence. Analysis of artifacts from the type locality enabled sampling of a greater time depth while avoiding the uncertainties in previous results on artifacts sampled from a "disturbed" context at Kulkulett...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
22] Late Pleistocene Behaviors: Perspectives from the Middle Awash, Ethiopia Behavioral contexts across the critical period associated with the evolution and successful dispersal(s) of anatomically modern humans (AMH) within and beyond Africa are inadequately understood. Although the genetic and fossil evidence in hand largely advocates eastern Afr...
Article
The extent of reduction in retouched stones serves as a proxy for curation. In the archaeological record, reduction intensity must be inferred from discarded remnants of tools. The contemporary use of scraper blades by hideworkers in southern Ethiopia provides archaeologists rare opportunities where original tool dimensions can be directly measured...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
There is not yet clear evidence for the beginning of complex projectile technologies (propulsion via mechanical aid). Morphological attributes and miniaturization of stone points at Aduma have been used to suggest early complex projectile use ~100,000-80,000 years ago. Hafting traces on stone segments and geometric pieces were presented as better i...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The Middle Stone Age (MSA) has attracted extensive research attention over the past few decades because of its association with complex behaviors. Notwithstanding, the debate on the timing and pace of behavioral changes, a common generalization is that MSA technologies become more sophisticated through time. Previous models have emphasized the step...
Article
Full-text available
Projectile weapons (i.e. those delivered from a distance) enhanced prehistoric hunting efficiency by enabling higher impact delivery and hunting of a broader range of animals while reducing confrontations with dangerous prey species. Projectiles therefore provided a significant advantage over thrusting spears. Composite projectile technologies are...
Article
The contemporary use of flaked stone tools provides a rare opportunity to study various aspects of lithic technology. Variables that must be inferred in archaeological contexts can be observed and more easily studied in ethnographic ones. The Hadiya hideworkers of southern Ethiopia, like a few other groups in this region, still retain the tradition...
Article
Full-text available
The site of Aladi Springs was discovered and excavated in the 1970s. However, the assemblages from this site did not subsequently receive full investigation. Here, we present results of the first exhaustive analysis of the lithic collections from both the Middle and the Later Stone Age (MSA/LSA) occupation horizons at this site. Detailed analysis o...
Article
Full-text available
The archaeology of twentieth-century warfare, with its focus on Western armies and military issues, has often neglected indigenous experiences of war and social aspects, particularly the role of women in reproducing culture through material practices in situations of great distress. In this article, we propose a postcolonial examination of imperial...
Article
Full-text available
The Department of Prehistory of the Complutense University of Madrid has been conducting archaeological and ethnoarchaeological research in western Ethiopia since 2001. Between 2001 and 2007 research focused on Benishangul- Gumuz Regional State. This region hosts a diverse population of Nilo-Saharan communities, including Bertha, Gumuz and Koman pe...

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