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Day 2 (June 27, 2011): First Day at the Digs
June 27, 2011
Each season, the first day of work involves survey and setting up our excavations. Today was no exception. I gathered the entire crew of excavators, 27 Kenyan colleagues who are expert in the meticulous activity of digging with metal awls and brushes, flicking away tiny bits of dirt. That’s how our team carefully uncovers the buried fossils, stone tools, and other hints of the environment in which the toolmakers lived.
The entire group drove out to one of our more famous sites, called Site 15, where we first found an elephant butchery site. For any of you who have visited our new Hall of Human Origins at the Smithsonian, the elephant butchery is the topic of one of the ‘Snapshots in Time’ dioramas, which have been really popular with visitors to the exhibition. Since the elephant butchery was first excavated in the late 1980s, we’ve also found evidence of two other butcheries in the same excavation. These two parts of the dig were where some early humans came and used stone tools to cut meat from the bones of an antelope and a zebra, and smash open some of the bones for the nutritious, fatty marrow inside the bones.
So our goal this season at Site 15 is to continue digging further where the concentration of boulders, hammerstones, and other stone tools were found last year. We’ll also see if the zebra teeth lead us to another butchery site of a different zebra from the first one we found some years ago.