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Day 11 (July 6, 2011): Lifts at BOK-2 and Site 15

July 6, 2011

Remember the last lift from BOK-2 (Day 7), where we lifted 135 artifacts? Well, it was only a few days until the excavation floor was covered with artifacts again! When the excavated artifacts accumulate to a point where it hinders our digging, we must lift again. Today that’s exactly what our team did at BOK-2. Katie and Alison spent the morning taking pictures of each square, mapping the locations of artifacts, and writing labels on over 100 bags. Each individual artifact or bone will be placed in a bag, given an identification number, and archived at the National Museum in Nairobi.

A large metal bowl sitting in the dirt, filled with small bags of labeled specimens (fossils and stone tools) excavated from Site BOK-2
The artifacts and fossils which were lifted from BOK-2
The lift itself went smoothly and yielded another 111 artifacts. The most curious object the skilled Kenyan excavators unearthed was a portion of a skull. It looks like it’s from the face of some animal. Unfortunately the piece is still too embedded in sediment to tell what it is. It was carefully wrapped in tissue and then again in aluminum foil to provide maximum protection against any damage during transport. It will be taken to the National Museum where the grains of sediment will be removed one by one with special tools.


excavator's hand holding a small pick in precise position as a small hammer strikes, carefully chipping through the hard dirt
One of the excavators carefully digs his way to the target layer in preparation for the lift.
Excavations were also progressing well at Site 15. As I explained on Day 2, our goal is to continue digging a layer where last year we found hammerstones, flakes, and faunal remains. First, the crew had to expose the target layer (Layer 4) by digging through the younger, overlying sediments. They have spent the past week doing this and have recently approached the target layer, which we expect will be full of stone tools and fossil bones. Before we can begin excavating it, however, we need to analyze the overlying sediments and pinpoint exactly where the layer with stone tools is likely to begin.

Eight men excavating and recording sediment layers at Site 15 across three terraced steps. Some men writing in books, others excavating with hammers and small picks
Excavating and recording the sediment layers at Site 15
We’ll start the work day tomorrow with our first lift of the season at Site 15. Afterward, I’m expecting a group of important guests for lunch. I think it will be an interesting day!