Generally speaking, the colonization of high-altitude regions is considered a relatively recent development, not least as alpine habitats are usually considered unfavourable for human occupation.

Consequently, only external pressure, such as population increases in favourable environments, would force people to move into highland locations. For this reason, the archaeological potential of alpine regions was long underestimated, with archaeological research in Afro-alpine landscapes almost absent.

Now, stunning finds from the top of Mount Dendi in Ethiopia made during our last field campaign in October 2012 are beginning to question this assumption. Hand-axes and other bifacial tools found at an altitude of 3,000 meters point to human occupation since the Middle Pleistocene period.

 

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View of the Dendi crater lakes (~ 2,850 m a.s.l.)
Photo: Ralf Vogelsang

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RWTH Aachen University

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