The site was first discovered in 1926 by Louis Leakey during excavations at the nearby Nakuru Burial Site, and Mary Leakey conducted the first major excavations between 1937 and 1938. There are two distinct areas of occupation at Hyrax Hill: one which was occupied during the Neolithic and late Iron Age, and one which was occupied by the Sirikwa (people inhabiting the Great Lakes region of East Africa from the 12th to 15th centuries) earlier in the Iron Age.
Hyrax Hill is named after the hyrax, a small mammal that lives in rocky areas. Hyraxes were once common in the rocky crevasses of Hyrax Hill, but their numbers have dropped in recent years due to the rapid urbanization of the surrounding area.
Hyrax Hill is the location of Hyrax Hill Prehistoric Site and Museum.