78,000-year-old record of Middle and Later Stone Age innovation in an East African tropical forest Academic Article uri icon


  • The Middle to Later Stone Age transition in Africa has been debated as a significant shift in human technological, cultural, and cognitive evolution. However, the majority of research on this transition is currently focused on southern Africa due to a lack of long-term, stratified sites across much of the African continent. Here, we report a 78,000-year-long archeological record from Panga ya Saidi, a cave in the humid coastal forest of Kenya. Following a shift in toolkits ~67,000 years ago, novel symbolic and technological behaviors assemble in a non-unilinear manner. Against a backdrop of a persistent tropical forest-grassland ecotone, localized innovations better characterize the Late Pleistocene of this part of East Africa than alternative emphases on dramatic revolutions or migrations.


  • Shipton, Ceri
  • Roberts, Patrick
  • Archer, Will
  • Armitage, Simon J
  • Bita, Caesar
  • Blinkhorn, James
  • Courtney-Mustaphi, Colin
  • Crowther, Alison
  • Curtis, Richard
  • d' Errico, Francesco
  • Douka, Katerina
  • Faulkner, Patrick
  • Groucutt, Huw S
  • Helm, Richard
  • Herries, Andy IR
  • Jembe, Severinus
  • Kourampas, Nikos
  • Lee-Thorp, Julia
  • Marchant, Rob
  • Mercader, Julio
  • Pitarch Marti, Africa
  • Prendergast, Mary E
  • Rowson, Ben
  • Tengeza, Amini
  • Tibesasa, Ruth
  • White, Tom S
  • Petraglia, Michael D
  • Boivin, Nicole

publication date

  • 2018