Kalokol Pillar Site

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Kalokol Pillar Site in Turkana, Kenya

The Kalokol Pillar Site, registered as GcJh3 and also known as Namoratunga II, is an archaeological site on the west side of Lake Turkana in Kenya dating to the Pastoral Neolithic. Namoratunga means "people of stone" in the Turkana language. The site was originally believed to have been created around 300 BC, but recent excavations have yielded an older radiocarbon sample dating to 3890 +/- 15 BP (or 2398 +/- 44 calendar years BC).[1] The site is easily visible on the Lodwar – Kalokol roadside, 20 meters from the road. The Kalokol Pillar Site (3°25′22″N 35°48′10″E / 3.42278°N 35.80278°E / 3.42278; 35.80278) contains 19 basalt pillars which are surrounded by a circular formation of stones. A number of other pillar sites surround Lake Turkana as well and date to the same time period; Lothagam North and Manemanya, for example, are communal cemeteries. These sites were likely built by the region's earliest herders.[2] Another burial site with stone cairns, Namoratunga I, (2°23′0.04″N 36°8′2.52″E / 2.3833444°N 36.1340333°E / 2.3833444; 36.1340333)[3] also known as Lokori, does not have stone pillars.[4][5]

Archaeologists Mark Lynch and L.H. Robbins described the Kalokol Pillar Site in 1978 and identified it as a possible archaeoastronomical site.[6] Lynch believed the basalt pillars tie the constellations or stars to the 12-month 354-day lunar calendar of Cushitic speakers of southern Ethiopia. The pillars were said to align with 7 star systems: Triangulum, Pleiades, Bellatrix, Aldebaran, Central Orion, Saiph, and Sirius. Other archaeologists have reanalyzed the archaeoastronomical evidence,[7] and an older radiocarbon date from the Kalokol Pillar Site now calls into question these interpretations.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hildebrand, Elisabeth A.; Shea, John J.; Grillo, Katherine M. (2011). "Four middle Holocene pillar sites in West Turkana, Kenya". Journal of Field Archaeology. 36 (3): 181–200. doi:10.1179/009346911X12991472411088.
  2. ^ Hildebrand, Elisabeth; et al. (2018). "A monumental cemetery built by eastern Africa's first herders near Lake Turkana, Kenya". PNAS. 115 (36): 8942–8947.
  3. ^ Kubiak, M. (1982), "Eclipse at Namoratunga", The Observatory, vol. 102, p. 211.
  4. ^ Helaine, Seline (1997), Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures (Springer), p. 755. ISBN 978-0-7923-4066-9
  5. ^ Krupp, Edwin C. (2003), Echoes of the Ancient Skies: The Astronomy of Lost Civilizations (Dover), pp. 170–172. ISBN 978-0-486-42882-6
  6. ^ Robbins, L. H.; Lynch, B. M. (19 May 1978). "Namoratunga: The First Archeoastronomical Evidence in Sub-Saharan Africa". Science. 200 (4343): 766–768. doi:10.1126/science.200.4343.766. ISSN 1095-9203. PMID 17743241.
  7. ^ Doyle, Laurance R.; Wilcox, Thomas J. (1986). "Statistical Analysis of Namoratunga: An Archaeoastronomical Site in Sub-Saharan Africa?". Azania. 21 (1): 125–129. doi:10.1080/00672708609511373.

Further reading[edit]

  • Doyle, L.R., 1986, "The Borana Calendar Reinterpreted," Current Anthropology 27, 286-287.
  • Doyle, L.R. and E.W. Frank, 1997, "Astronomy of Africa," in Encyclopedia of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures, H. Selin (ed.), Kluwer, Netherlands, 96-99.