Baringo scientists discover 300,000-year-old tools

Excavation of stone tools at Rabai in Baringo South. [Yvonne Chepkwony, Standard]

Scientists in Baringo have discovered over 800 stone tools dated 300,000 years ago.

Dr Job Kibii, paleontology and coordinator of Research at Turkana Basin Institute, said three archaeological sites were discovered within Rabai in Baringo South. The excavation started last month.

The Sh12 million Sino-Kenya Paleolithic Archeological Project is a partnership between the National Museums of Kenya and the Henan Provincial Institute of Culture Heritage and Archaeology (China).

“At Baringo, near Bogoria Spa, we have excavations of archaeological sites going on to determine tools left behind by our great ancestors,” he said.

The tools, Kibii said, will help to establish the kind of equipment used in the past for butchering, hunting, and chopping tubers, among others.

The tools that have since been discovered are choppers, flakes, angular fragments, handaxes, sangoan picks, and microlithics manufactured from six rock types – chalcedony, basalt, obsidian, and rhyolite.

“We are looking at the technology our great ancestors used, the initial human being’s technology with significantly Kenya being mentioned as the cradle of humankind with earlier human ancestors coming from Tugen Hills in Baringo dated 6 million years ago,” he said. Kibii observed that the earlier technology discovered in the country dated 3.3 million years ago.

He noted that ancestors used stone tools and were skilled, which allowed them to cope and exploit what was available in the environment.

More than 20 sites have since been discovered by scientists.

Kibii believed that Baringo was a habitant for humans in the past.

“We have been here for a month and a half, but in the process of registering the site with UNESCO as a world heritage site which will be protected, the fossils will be taken to the National Museum in Nairobi for preservation and curation,” he added.

Dr Emmanuel Ndiema, head of the Earth Science Department at the National Museum Kenya, said the project was a collaboration between the two countries and the local community in promoting heritage and documenting archaeological records due to Kenya’s rich and diverse history of evolution, with it being the cradle of humankind.

“Baringo has a unique heritage and documenting these sites is key for us. We are in constant communication with the county government, but the science of archaeological excavation is still a national function,” Ndiema said.

Shillah Kenei, a local, explained that she has been involved in the excavation, a job she does with pride thanks to the discovery of the stone tools in the area.