Early to Middle Pleistocene Transistion: Evolution and diversity of African hominins

A) map of East Africa, showing the location of the Trans-Evol and In Africa projects, along with the sites where hominins from the EMPT were found (Buia, Bouri and Olorgesailie; B) KNM-OL 45500 from Olorgesaillie (Potts et al. 2004); C) BOU-VP-2/66 from Bouri (Asfaw et al. 2002); D) UA-31 from Buia (Ghinassi et al. 2015).

The Trans-Evol project carries out archaeological excavations in West Turkana (Kenya) in order to document the morphological and cultural diversity of hominin fossil populations during the Early to Middle Pleistocene transition (i.e. EMPT, 1250-750 ka). This period is characterised by major environmental changes along with morphological (encephalisation) and behavioural (specialisation/expansion of Acheulean, new modes of huntings) innovations within the Homo genus. Unfortunately, to date, the African fossil record only counts with three well-preserved hominin remains from this period (Daka, Buia, Olorgaseilie).

Trans-Evol’s principal aim is to deepen our understanding of this key time period of human evolution through the discovery and the study of new African archaeological sites where hominin activities can be attested.

To achieve this aim, the project relies on a large collaborative team of specialists (i.e. archaeology, archaeozoology, palaeontology, geochronology, and palaeoanthropology) from several international institutions.

The project started during the 2017 In Africa project field season with the identification of four areas of interest in South Turkana. In 2018, geological sampling was done to chronologically characterise one of those sites (Kanyimangin) where excavations started in 2019.

Map of the area where the In Africa (in blue) and Trans-Evol (in red) projects operate. Kanyimangin and the 3 areas around Kanapoi are the 4 locations of interest that were identified during the survey led in August 2017 and will be studied within the framework of the Trans-Evol project. Excavations in Kanyimangin started in August 2019.
Kanyimangin is situated about 30 km south of the base camp of the In Africa project. An hour drive is necessary to reach it. A) View from the hill above the site of Kanyimangin; B) Field assistant Amog Eperon, Peterson Eperon and Robert Ngchilia when reaching the site; C) View from Kanyimangin; D) Palemagnetism sampling; E) Soil sampling for ESR dating; F) Lunch break.

Trans-Evol is a collaboration between the CNRS-MNHN research unit UMR7194 Histoire Naturelle de l'Homme Préhistorique (Paris, France), the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies (University of Cambridge, UK) and the National Museums of Kenya (Nairobi). It relies on a large collaborative network of specialists from several international institutions and the fieldwork is highly dependent upon a specialized team of Turkana field assistants.

Trans-Evol is supported logistically by the Turkana Basin Institute, the French Embassy in Nairobi and the IFRA (Nairobi Kenya).

Since January 2020, the project is funded by an International Research Project from the CNRS/INEE. You can check out the official Trans-Evol web-page by clicking here.

Trans-Evol field seasons are led in cooperation with the In Africa project.



VAN BAELEN Ann, LCHES, University of Cambridge

SANCHEZ‐DEHESA GALAN Sol, UMR7055, Université Paris Nanterre, Università della Sapienza


Geology - Geochronology

BAHAIN Jean‐Jacques, UMR7194, MNHN


FALGUERES Christophe, UMR 7194, CNRS

TOMBRET Olivier, UMR7194, CNRS

FOLEY Robert, LCHES, University of Cambridge

ACHYUTHAN Hema , Anna University (Chennai)

VIDAL Céline, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge

Palaeontology - Zooarchaeology

BOSCH Marjolein, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge


EDUNG Justus Erus, National Museums of Kenya

MANTHI Fredrick Kyalo, National Museums of Kenya


STOETZEL Emmanuelle, UMR7194, CNRS


MIRAZÓN LAHR Marta, LCHES, University of Cambridge

MOUNIER Aurélien, UMR7194, CNRS


Paris, France

Cambridge, United Kingdom

Nairobi, Kenya

Paris, France

French Embassy, Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi, Kenya

Lodwar, Kenya

Paris, France