Pre-historic Sites in Kenya
2. Illeret Prehistoric Site
Best-known for the 1.5 million-old Homo-erectus footprint which is the second oldest “hominid” footprints ever cited, the Illeret Pre-historic Site and Research Base affiliated with Turkana Basin Institute has a lengthy history in the study of human evolution. Illeret was discovered and excavated in 1969 by Richard and Meave Leakey. In 2007, its research facility, east of Lake Turkana (about 51 kms north of the Koobi Fora Musuem) became a fully-fledged field research outpost.
3. Nariokotome Boy Monument
Turkana is home a handful of the monumental archaeological locates in Kenya, many of which have garnered plenty of global interest. One of the unsurpassed archaeological finds in Turkana, which was excavated in 1984 by a team led by Richard Leakey, and simply named Turkana Boy or Nariokotome Boy (symbolic of the locality where it was excavated), is also one of world’s earliest discovered hominids: A nearly complete skeleton of a “Homo erectus” youth who lived 1.6 million years ago. It is, by far, the most complete early hominid skeleton found. Turkana or Nariokotome Boy added to a very impressive history of the study of pre-human history in Turkana County which is widely christened as a Cradle of Mankind. The original Turkana or Nariokotome Boy was moved to a climate controlled safe at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi; catalog number KNM-WT 15000. At Nariokotome, a monument bearing the replica of Turkana Boy and the memorial obelisk are symbolic of its value in the story of evolution.
4. Lokallalei Site
From Kalokol the road which is motorable throughout year marches along the shores of Lake Turkana, passing through Kataboi; a much-liked fishing spot. It provides memorable views of Lake Turkana and on the opposite side of road the vast plain before arriving at Nachukui. Lokallalei, forming part of the Nachukui Formation, is the oldest archaeological site along the Rift Valley System and its importance in the understanding of hominid “knapping activity,” the early days hominidal tool factories, and technical artistry (dating back 2.34 Mya) makes it an important location in the understanding of human evolution. Lokalallei Site is found at the edge of the Lake Turkana and lies about 61 kms north of Kalokol.
Nachukui Formation, is a sedimentary sequence, 730 ms thick, that includes deposits from formation members including the Lonyumun (4.2-4 million years ago or Ma), Kataboi (3.9-3.4 Ma), Lomekwi (3.4-2.5 Ma), Lokalalei (2.5-2.3 Ma), Kalochoro (2.3–1.9 Ma), Kaitio (1.9–1.6 Ma), Natoo (1.6–1.3 Ma), and Nariokotome (1.3–0.6 Ma). Most deposits fer formed under lacustrine, fluvial and alluvial fan contexts including remains of the Kenyanthropus.
5. Turkana Basin Institute
The southern area of Turkana County, or the area south of Lodwar Town (which almost sits in the middle of the County) is in much the same league in places of interest as the northern area just alluded to en passant. Turkana Basin Institute found 50 kms west Lodwar is specially worth the drop-in by trippers interested in the prehistory of man. Founded by the renown paleo-anthropologist Richard E. Leakey in conjunction with Stony Brook University, this aims to advance the studies on Human Histories and Related Earth. The Turkana Basin Institute has two operational field centers, at Turkwel and at Illeret, that both contribute to the understanding of early human pre-history. Turkana County, of course, has a long history of research in unearthing human origins and evolution and this center is a huge-step forward in advancing this school of knowledge. The Turkana Basin Institute is patronized by students, experts and researchers from the world over who converge here to gain valuable experience in the fields of anthropology and paleontology. A trip to Turkana County, which is revered as the ‘Cradle of Mankind’, cannot omit a visit to one or more “human pre-history sites.” And T.B.I is a one-stop-shop. It is also within easy reach of Eliye Springs.
6. Lothagam Valley
The exemplary Lothagam Valley found near the shores of Lake Turkana, which it was part of until just 8000 years ago, is not only one of the geologically varied and scenically-splendid areas along the shores of Lake Turkana, but’s one of the most intriguing historically. As it goes, 5000 years ago, the first people to settle here built a medieval settlement which would have been at the littorals of Lake Turkana. In 2017, a team of experts led by Turkana Basin Institute unearthed the 120 m2 ‘ancient burial shrine‘ containing the remains of 600 men, women and children. It also contained a vast holding of ornaments and other artefacts. “Lothagam is about an hour away from TBI Turkwel. Geologically, it is known for its distinctive red sediment beds that were laid down during the late Miocene, about 7 million years ago. Because of the tectonic activities in the basin over millions of years, the beds have been tilted, deformed and eroded. Some of the iron-rich sediments have been slowly chiseled away by rain, leaving behind winding gullies and gorges. The landscapes are so stunningly bleak that they resemble the surface of Mars. Because of the lack of vegetation and shade, a typical day in Lothagam is very challenging, with temperatures hitting 40 ℃”.
7. The Nachola Site
At Nachola Village, situated down the escarpment in the gorge which eventually ends up at the bottom of Suguta Valley and west of Samburu Hills, is a site of archaeological importance that once produced numerous fossils relating to the ‘Kenyapithecus’ species. The Nachola area occupies the western periphery of the El Barta Plains. First excavated in 1963 by Baker and later in 1980 and 1982 by a Kenya-Japan expedition, the Nachola Prehistoric Site yielded several links in the chain of human evolution, with abundant fossils important to the study of ‘Nacholapithecus’ (initially classified as ‘Kenyapithecus’ sub species). “While eight large‐sized hominoid species dating to Early to Middle Miocene (about 17‐14 Ma) are known to exist in Afro‐Arabia and western Eurasia, the facial and postcranial anatomy of these apes is poorly known. However, much has been learned of the craniodental and postcranial anatomy of ‘Nacholapithecus’ – an almost entire skeleton of a male individual exhibiting a shared derived subnasal morphology with living apes. Samburu hominoid, a late Miocene fossil was unearthed in the basal dormitory region of the Namurungule Formation about 15 kms from Nachola. The Nachola Site is situated 13 kms east of Baragoi Town.