Hyrax hill prehistoric site and stadium
Hyrax hill prehistoric site and stadium: Hyrax Hill Prehistoric Site and Museum is an archeological site and a national museum situated in Nakuru county 4 kilometers from nakuru city and half a kilometer from Lake Nakuru, the site is a prehistory, history and a natural history museum. Hyrax Hill Prehistoric Site and Museum is one of the best places in Kenya to see the pre-history in situ with a Neolithic settlement on the side of the rift valley, Hyrax Hill Prehistoric Site and Museum was declared a national monument in 1944 and opened for public visits in 1965.
The declaring and recognition of the site a national monument followed 4 years of the archaeological exercises on the hill, the excavations were initiated by the discovery of relics by Mrs. Selfe and many other phases followed the first one. Other phases of excavations were carried out by Dr. Mary Leakey in 1938 which revealed different areas of the site and levels of occupations.
Hyrax hill prehistoric site and museum is a regional museum under the management and administration of National Museums of Kenya which is headed by Dr Mzalendo as its Director General, the site underwent through renovation process which was led and sponsored by Kenya Museum Society and consultation of British Institute in Eastern Africa in collaboration with the National Museums of Kenya.
History of the excavations
Excavations at Hyrax hill prehistoric site museum are attributed to Dr. Mary Leakey who conducted the excavation exercises at the site, in 1937 Dr. Mary Leakey excavated the first site. During the excavation process materials, a series of rough stone enclosures and a number of burials where discovered, the discoveries of the late Iron Age and according to Sutton the discoveries are probably 200 years old. In the first phase of the excavations in 1937 much older occupation layer dating to the late Stone Age a several burials were discovered and uncovered by Leakey, these discoveries are currently referred to as Neolithic mass grave at the signage at the museum.
The phase two of the excavations was carried out in 1938 at site II which is associated with Sirikwa occupation layers with the pre-iron Age material on site I and the Nakuru burial site. In 1943 unexcavated areas of the site were acknowledged as important archaeological resources and was later gazetted and declared as a national monument in 1945 on 26 November.
Another phase of excavations was on the site were carried out in 1965, the process was carried out by Ron Clarke on site II and the southern burial site I. when the excavations were done a small museum was established in the farm house, the farm house was previously owned by Mrs. A. Selfe. Another phase of excavation was carried by Dr. Onyango Abunje in 1973–74, he excavated the area adjacent to site I and in his discoveries he discovered many materials belonging to the late Iron Age materials including two Iron Age pits and burial mounded.
The last and concluding excavation was carried out in 1986 by Dr. John Sutton as a re-investigation in site II and in the process he discovered three Sirikwa houses. Dr. John Sutton concluded with a report indicating that site II is not related any way to Site I and its Iron Age dates back to middle centuries of the second Millennium.
Facilities at Hyrax Hill Prehistoric Site and Museum
The museum building
The museum building at Hyrax is a former farm house established in the period of 1900 – 1910, the owner the late Mrs. Selfe gave up the building in 1965 to National museum of Kenya. the museum building is was constructed in a rectangular form with a veranda along the south façade, a 4.8 meters wide straight stairway consisting of 5 steps onto a veranda and a main gallery in the central space of the building.
The museum building is consists of 3 sections/ chambers/ galleries that include the central chamber which is the largest, curator’s chambers and Education offices both situated at the back of the building. The museum has one gallery which divided into three chambers that us west, east and central gallery. Central gallery is the largest of all and displays archaeology of the site and consists of a model showing the entire site, the East chamber displays natural history objects and the west chamber displays ethnographic materials.
In the museum many items are exhibited and these include 400 objects and work of art, objects on display include carved masks, wooden statues and many more made by Musas in the period of 1970 and 2000. Other objects include items collected from grass field, traditional music instruments, metal works, pottery items, bamboo objects and hunting gadgets.
Hyrax hill archaeology
Hyrax hill archaeology site at Hyrax Hill Prehistoric Site and Museum is a small rocky lava ridge measuring about 500- meters in length and with a height of 50 meters above the surrounding. Hyrax hill is named after numerous hyraxes that used float around the rock opening, the top of the hill is filled with many archeologically features dating in a range 200 to 500 years ago and consists of several phases of occupation.
Hyrax hill archeology sites consists of various sections such as the Neolithic occupation with burials on site I, recent Iron Age on site I and the earlier iron age activity on site II. Hyrax hill has been the centre to the development of archeological research in Kenya which has been spearheaded by various personnels/excavators in different periods of time such as Dr. Mary Leakey in 1937, Dr. Onyango Abunje in 1973–74 and Dr. John Sutton in 1986.
Hyrax hill lies in the middle of Kenya’s Rift valley at a distance of kilometers from nakuru town and close to Nairobi-Nakuru highway, the base of Hyrax hill lies about 100 meters above lake nakuru. The hill has some sites which have excavated and left open for public exhibition where people go and observe scenery of life styles and achievements of their descendants through well – preserved and laid out exhibits.