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Enkapune Ya Muto (Kenya)



The Enkapune Ya Muto rockshelter (also called Twilight Cave) is located on the Mau Escarpment of the central Rift Valley in Kenya. Excavated in the 1980s by Stanley Ambrose, the cave contains 5-6 meters thick deposits from occupations dated between 40,000 and 1300 years ago. Neolithic, Iron Age, and Pleistocene (Late Stone Age) occupations are in evidence at the cave.

Enkapune Ya Muto has a series of early Later Stone Age deposits with poorly preserved animal remains, dated between 39,300 and 29,000 years BP. The stone tool assemblage includes convex end scrapers, bifacially-flaked small knives, and flattened discoids and microliths.

Most significantly, worked ostrich egg shell is in abundance, and 13 complete beads, 12 bead preforms and 593 bead fragments were discovered. The ostrich shell bead manufacturing debris was direct-dated to between 39,900 +/- 1,000 years ago.


Ambrose, Stanley H. 1998 Chronology of the Later Stone Age and Food Production in East Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science 25(4):377-392.

Marean, Curtis W., Nina Mudida, and Kaye E. Reed 1994 Holocene Paleoenvironmental Change in the Kenyan Central Rift as Indicated by Micromammals from Enkapune Ya Muto Rockshelter. Quaternary Research 41(3):376-389.

This glossary entry is part of the Dictionary of Archaeology.

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