Previous research in the Republic of Djibouti resulted in two notable Paleolithic findings: the Oldowan elephant butchery site of Barogali, excavated by J. Chavaillon and A. Berthelet, and a Homo erectus/sapiens maxilla described by L. de Bonis et al. These discoveries were made in the 1980s, and no paleoanthropological surveys have been conducted in Djibouti in the following decades. In 2007, the Mission archéologique et paléontologique Afar Djibouti (MAPAD) carried out a new survey of the Gobaad Basin and discovered several new archaeological and paleontological sites attributed to the Lower Paleolithic. Three sites in particular contain rich concentrations of lithic artifacts on the surface that, based on field examination, can be attributed to the Oldowan. Of these, the site of Chekheyti Issie 3 (CKI-3) is the largest, comprising a surface of well over 100 m2 of abundant Oldowan lithics in spatial association with fossil hippopotamus remains. The presence of lithic refits, identified in an ad hoc fashion in the field, suggests that the site was minimally disturbed. Further excavation and analysis of CKI-3 should provide insight into carcass acquisition and processing by early hominids. More generally, the newly discovered sites in the Gobaad Basin will allow for the testing of a range of hypotheses regarding both local and regional variation in hominid technology, behavior, and subsistence strategies in the Lower Pleistocene.
Djibouti, Gobaad Basin, Pleistocene, Oldowan, Lithic industry, Hippo, Butchery site