LOCATION(S): Kenya

The Smithsonian’s Human Origins Project conducts field and lab research on the evolution of early human adaptations. Our key research partners are in East Africa and East Asia – especially in Kenya, China, and Indonesia. Our digs and studies in these regions, along with investigations by associates working in Ethiopia, Tanzania, India, Mozambique, among other countries, help generate scientific data on the long-term interaction of human ancestors with their surroundings.

The site of Kanjera occurs on the Homa Peninsula of western Kenya. It’s located in the beautiful rural countryside, surrounded by eroded volcanic edifices, on the southern shore of the Winam Gulf of Lake Victoria. Excavations by a Smithsonian – National Museums of Kenya team began in 1987, and have continued under the leadership of Dr. Tom Plummer, who is now chairman of the Anthropology Department at Queens College, City University of New York. Tom’s most recent excavations have focused on Kanjera South, where he, Rick Potts of the Smithsonian, and other members of the team have discovered the oldest archeological evidence of early human activities in a grassland environment, dating to 2 million years ago.