Archaeological Sites Njoro River Cave

The archaeological site known as Njoro River Cave is located near the Kenyan Rift Valley. It chiefly gained prominence after being brought into focus by a British archaeologist and anthropologist, Mary Leakey, in the 1930s.

The Elmenteitan culture was brought to attention by the discoveries of the late 1930s. The knowledge about Njoro River Cave also came in as the first systematically organized research along with radiocarbon tests for an East African site. The cremated burials revealed have been estimated to be around 3,000 years old. Interesting discovers of pestles and lower grindstones showed that they were assumedly used for daily chores such as grinding wheat, grain, and other food entities. Interestingly enough, there is also no concrete evidence found at Njoro River Cave that the prevailed society was agricultural. Apart from the pestles and lower grindstones, which themselves could have been used for any other unknown purpose at present, there was not anything found that could establish a strong link between the Elmenteitan culture and agriculture on the whole. The discoveries are also loosely connected with the Neolithic era which shares some similar elements with that of Elmenteitan culture, mainly the cremated burials. The Neolithic era is widely considered as the last stage of stone-age which emphasizes the fact that the Elmenteitan culture’s essence was related to Neolithic period, thus being relatively historic.

Leaky also excavated blades, beads, and vessels that gave evidence of cremation rituals. Cremation ritual dates back to thousands of years ago, therefore the bones and ashes that were found near Njoro River Cave were analyzed carefully to determine their era, roughly if not precisely. The close association of Njoro River and Hyrax Hill cannot be ignored. Hyrax Hill is an archaic site situated in the same region of Kenya as Njoro River Cave; i.e. Rift Valley. Monuments discovered at Hyrax Hill helped archaeologists to firm their intuitions and theories about Njoro River Cave.  Tombs and fortresses built of similar design and materials were located at both places. In addition, 19 bodies were also found which clearly showed elements of the Neolithic epoch.

The strong correlation established between the two sites is definitely noteworthy. Hyrax Hill where mound burials and 19 bodies were discovered, on the other hand Njoro River Cave provided with sufficient blades and beads to underline the practice of cremation and those burials.