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P1 – Archeology and Archeozoology

PI: Ralf Vogelsang | Agazi Negash, Alemseged Beldados
Post-Doc: Götz Ossendorf
PhD-Student: Minassie Girma


The question since when humans conquered high mountains and the age and evolution of the making of a tropical alpine human environment is the focus of archeological landscape surveys and rock shelter excavations. In addition to the lithic artifact analysis, archeozoological (Joséphine Lesur), archeobotanical (Ethiopian counterpart Alemseged Beldados), and Obsidian provenance studies (Ethiopian counterpart Agazi Negash) contribute to identify the nature of past human settlements in high elevations. In collaboration with Anthrosol investigation (P2), and Paleoecology (P4), we examine the spatial and diachronic interplay between humans and their environment during the late Quaternary landscape evolution.


  1. Evidence of the world’s oldest human high elevation residential site, characterized by the use of Afroalpine resources including giant-mole rats as key food source of prehistoric Middle Stone Age foragers
  2. Human presence during several distinct prehistoric phases and
    under changing environmental and climatic conditions
  3. Variety of different adaptive strategies during LSA settlement (site
    functions, subsistence, long-distance networks)


  1. Achievement of a deeper understanding of the human-environment interaction during the Late Pleistocene MSA settlement phases  identified thus far, with special emphasis...
         ⦁ on diverging human adaptation strategies.on the nature,
         ⦁ intensity and timing of prehistoric occupation events and on the environmental/climatic context of these.
  2. Increase of the spatial and temporal resolution of human occupation during the long LSA phases against the background of varying climatic and environmental conditions by the build-up of a robust spatio-temporal dataset covering all key areas of the Bale Mountains This will contribute to identify...
        ⦁ major settlement pulses,  
        ⦁ the degree of permanence and continuity of human occupation, 
        ⦁ the nature of the connections to the lowland
        ⦁ flexible human strategies in terms of technology, subsistence, scope of activities, mobility and land use.
  3. Identification and investigation of undisturbed deposits of past pastoral settlements and activities at selected rock shelters which are still today preferred residential sites (cf. Reber et al 2018).
Photo: FOR 2358
Photo: FOR 2358


Figure 1 & 2: Unifacial point (Middle Stone Age); excavation and sampling at Fincha Habera rock shelter during the 2017 field trip


Ossendorf G, Groos AR, Bromm T, Tekelemariam MG, Glaser B, Lesur J, Schmidt J, Akçar N, Bekele T, Beldados A, Demissew S, Kahsay TH, Nash BP, Nauss T, Negash A, Nemomissa S, Veit H, Vogelsang R, Woldu Z, Zech W, Opgenoorth L & Miehe G (2019) Middle Stone Age foragers resided in high elevations of the glaciated Bale Mountains, Ethiopia, Science 365 (2019), 583-587.

Reber D , Gelaw MF, Detsch F, Vogelsang R, Bekele T, Nauss T & Miehe G (2018) High-Altitude Rock Shelters and Settlements in an African Alpine Ecosystem: The Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia. Human Ecology 46(4), 587–600.