The University of Sheffield
Pakistan

Palaeolithic and Pleistocene of Pakistan

The British Archaeological Mission to Pakistan, under its Field Director Professor Robin Dennell, carried out research into the Palaeolithic of Pakistan in the 1980's and 1990's. The first part of this work (1981-85) was based in the Soan Valley, near Islamabad, and resulted in the revision (with his geological colleague, Prof. Helen Rendell) of the Pleistocene and Palaeolithic sequence established by de Terra and Paterson in the 1930's. This phase of fieldwork also involved the excavation of an open-air settlement ca. 45,000 years old, and the discovery of stone artefacts almost two million years old at Riwat. This research was published as a monograph "Pleistocene and Palaeolithic Investigations in the Soan Valley, northern Pakistan" (British Archaeological Reports S544).

The second part of this research involved six seasons (1986-90 and 1999) of field survey and excavation in the Pabbi Hills, which comprise a long sequence of river- and floodplain deposits between 2.5 and 0.5 million years old. This research resulted in the collection of over 40,000 fossil specimens from over 600 places, and these provide one of the best accounts of the fossil record of a riverine and flood-plain landscape, as well as the basis for a detailed biostratigraphy of the Early Pleistocene in southern Asia. Although no hominid remains were found, over 350 stone artefacts were found, many of which are believed to be derived from fossil-bearing deposits and may thus be up to two million years old.

This research is currently being prepared as a research monograph and a series of scientific papers, and no further fieldwork is being planned. Related publications are listed below

Publications relating to the Palaeolithic and Pleistocene of Pakistan and South Asia:

Books:

Rendell, H.R., Dennell, R.W. and Halim, M. (1989) Pleistocene and Palaeolithic Investigations in the Soan Valley, Northern Pakistan. British Archaeological Reports International Series 544. (364 pp., 110 figs).
This covers the fieldwork in the Soan Valley, including the discovery and dating of the controversial artefact horizon at Riwat, dated to a minimum of ca. 1.9 Mya. The excavation of the much later open-air site (site 55) at Riwat, dated to ca. 45,000 b.p. is also described. The monograph also includes re-assessments of earlier research (notably by de Terra and Paterson in the 1930’s), and critiques of our present understanding of the Pleistocene and Palaeolithic sequence in this part of the world.
A second monograph is currently in preparation on the surveys and excavations in the Pabbi Hills between 1986 and 1991.

Articles:

1983 Preliminary report on the early prehistoric occupation of the Potwar Plateau, northern Pakistan. In South Asian Archaeology (Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on asian Archaeology), ed. B. Allchin, 10-19. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
1985 (with H. Rendell) Dated lower Palaeolithic artefacts from northern Pakistan. Current Anthropology 26 (3), 393.
1987 (with H. Rendell) Asian axe 2 Million Years Old. Geographical Magazine 59 (6), 270-272.
1987 (with H. Rendell) The dating of an upper pleistocene archaeological site at Riwat, northern Pakistan. Geoarchaeology 1, 6-12.
1987 (with H. Rendell and E. Hailwood) Magnetic polarity stratigraphy of Upper Siwalik Sub-Group, Soan Valley, Pakistan: implications for early human occupance of Asia. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 85: 488-496.41)
1988 (with H. Rendell and E. Hailwood). Early tool-making in Asia : two-million year-old artefacts in Pakistan. Antiquity 62: 98-106.
1988 (with H. Rendell and E. Hailwood) Late Pliocene artefacts in Pakistan. Current Anthropology 29 (3): 495-498.
1988 (with B. Allchin) 1987 report of the British Archaeological Mission to Pakistan palaeolithic project. South Asian Studies 10: 145-147.
1989 (with H. Rendell and E. Hailwood) Artefacts du Pliocene tardif dans le nord du Pakistan. L'Anthropologie 92 (3): 927-930.
1989 Report of the British Archaeological Mission to Pakistan 1980-89. Man and Environment 14 (1): 129-131.
1989 Reply to "Early artefacts from Pakistan? Some questions for the excavators" by M. Hemingway and D. Stapert. Current Anthropology 30 (3): 318-322.
1989 (with A. Jah, R. Jenkinson, H. Rendell and S. Sutherland) Upper Siwalik palaeoenvironments and palaeoecology in the Pabbi Hills, Northern Pakistan. Zeitschrift fur Geomorphologie 33 (4):417-428.
1990 Progressive gradualism, imperialism, and academic fashion: Lower Palaeolithic archaeology in the twentieth century. Antiquity 64: 549-558.
1990: (with L. Hurcombe, H. Rendell and R.Jenkinson). Preliminary results of the Palaeolithic programme of the British Archaeological Mission to Pakistan, 1983-1987. In South Asian Archaeology 1987. (Proceedings of the International Conference of South Asian Archaeologists in Western Europe, Venice, July 1987), ed. M. Taddei and P. Callieri, 17-29.
Dennell, R.W. (1991) Report of the British Archaeological Mission's Potwar Project for the year 1989-90. South Asian Studies 7: 161-165.
Dennell, R.W. (1991) Pakistan's Prehistory: A Glimpse at the First Two Million Years. British Archaeological Mission to Pakistan Series 3: Ancient India and Iran Trust, Cambridge. 44 pp.
(with H. Rendell, M. Halim and E. Moth) (1991) Site 55, Riwat: a 42,000 yr.-bp. open-air palaeolithic site from northern Pakistan. Journal of Field Archaeology 19: 17-33.
(with H. Rendell) (1991) De Terra and Paterson, and the Soan flake industry: a perspective from the Soan Valley, Pakistan. Man and Environment 16 (2): 91-99.
(with L.M. Hurcombe) Paterson, the British Clactonian and the Soan Flake Industry: a re-evaluation of the early palaeolithic of northern Pakistan. In South Asian Archaeology 1989. (Proceedings of the International Conference of South Asian Archaeologists in Western Europe, Paris, July 1989), ed. C. Jarrige: 69-72.
(with L.M. Hurcombe) A Pre-Acheulean in the Pabbi Hills, northern Pakistan? In South Asian Archaeology 1989 (Proceedings of the International Conference of South Asian Archaeologists in Western Europe, Paris, July 1989), ed. C. Jarrige: 133-136.
Dennell, R.W., Hurcombe, L.M., Coard, R., Beech, M., Anwar, M. and ul Haq, S. (1992) The 1990 field season of the British Archaeological Mission to Pakistan in the Baroth area of the Pabbi Hills, northern Pakistan. South Asian Archaeology 1991 (Proceedings of the Conference of South Asian Archaeologists in Europe, Berlin, July 1991), 1-14.
Dennell, R.W. (1993) Evidence on human origins: a rediscovered source in the Upper Siwaliks of northern Pakistan. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 18 (4): 379-389.
(with H.M. Rendell, L. Hurcombe and E.A. Hailwood) (1994) Archaeological evidence for hominids in northern Pakistan before one million years ago. Courier Forschungs-Institut Senckenberg 171: 151-155.
(1995) Do human origins lie only in Africa? New evidence from northern Pakistan. Cranium 12 (1): 21-24.
(1995) (Coard, R. and Dennell, R.W.) Taphonomy of some articulated skeletal remains: transport potential in an artificial environment.. Journal of Archaeological Science 22: 441 - 448.
(1995) The early stone age of Pakistan: a methodological review. Man and Environment: 20 (1): 21 - 28.
(1995) (Dennell, R.W. and Hurcombe, L.M.) Comment on Pedra Furada. Antiquity 69: 604-5.
Dennell, R.W. and Roebroeks, W. (1996) The earliest colonisation of Europe: the short chronology revisited. Antiquity 70: 535-542.
(1997) Life at the sharp end: The world’s oldest spears. Nature 385: 767-768.
(1997) World’s oldest spears revolutionise theories on early man. Minerva 8 (3): 5-6.
(1998) Grasslands, tool-making and the earliest colonization of south Asia: a reconsideration. In Early Human Behavior in Global Context: The Rise and Diversity of the Lower Palaeolithic Record, 280-303, edited by M. Petraglia and R. Korisettar. London: Routledge.
(1999) The TD6 horizon of Atapuerca and the earliest colonisation of Europe: an Asian perspective. In Los primeros pobladores de Europa/The First Europeans, ed. E. Carbonell, Bermudez de Castro, J.M., Arsuaga, J.L. and Rodriguez, X.P. (1999). Burgos, Spain, 75-97.
(1999) Hunter-gatherer societies. In The Companion Encyclopedia of Archaeology Volume 2, ed. G. Barker. London and New York: Routledge, 797-838.
(1999) The Palaeolithic and Pleistocene potential of the Indus drainage system: a review of recent work. In The Indus River: Biodiversity, Resources, Humankind, ed. A. and P. Meadows, 306-319. Linnaean Society, London/Karachi: Oxford University Press.
(2001) From Sangiran to Olduvai, 1937-1960: the quest for “centres” of hominid origins in Asia and Africa. In Studying Human Origins: Disciplinary History and Epistemology, ed. R. Corbey and W. Roebroeks, 45-66. Amersterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

In press:

Homonid dispersals and Asian biogeography during the Lower and Early Middle Pleistocene, ca. 2.0 - 0.5 Asian Perspectives.