Human Remains from Kanam and Kanjera, Kenya Colony


THANKS to facilities afforded by the Royal Society and to the courtesy of Dr. L. S. B. Leakey, I have recently had an opportunity of spending about six weeks with the East African Archæological Expedition in the Kendu district of Kenya. The chief object of my visit was to study the geology of the deposits from which the Kanam mandible and the Kanjera No. 3 skull fragments were obtained, for Dr. Leakey had come to the important conclusion that these remains of Homo sapiens type occurred in situ in beds of Lower Pleistocene and Middle Pleistocene age, respectively. Unfortunately, it has not proved possible to find the exact site of either discovery, since the earlier expedition (of 1931–32) neither marked the localities on the ground nor recorded the sites on a map. Moreover, the photograph of the site where the mandible was found, exhibited with the jaw fragment at the Royal College of Surgeons, was, through some error, that of a different locality ; and the deposits (said to be clays) are in fact of entirely different rocks (volcanic agglomerate). Further confusion seems to have arisen over the photograph labelled as the horizon from which the Kanjera No. 3 skull fragments were obtained, this proving to be a cliff of volcanic ash situated some distance away. As the 1931–32 expedition spent three months in the area after the discovery of the mandible at Kanam (its activities being described in Dr. Leakey's field-reports circulated at the tune), it is regrettable that the records are not more precise.


  1. 1

    NATURE, 131, 477; 1933.

  2. 2

    See, for example, Andrews, C. W., Geol. Mag., p. 110; 1912.

  3. 3

    ibid., Cambridge Conference, Archæological Committee's Report. “At Kanam and Kanjera, stratified deposits include a similar series of industries” (that is, similar to Oldoway).

  4. 4

    ibid., 131, 397; 1933.

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BOSWELL, P. Human Remains from Kanam and Kanjera, Kenya Colony. Nature 135, 371 (1935).

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