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Day 26 (July 21, 2011): Deciphering the Dig
July 21, 2011
The puzzle can be broken down into two questions: 1) Are the stone tools found at the excavation located within an ancient stream channel? And 2) Can we easily tell when we reach the boundary between the BOK-2 sediments and the underlying Olorgesailie Formation, which is much older in time?
The deliberation today required a lot of observation, teamwork, and discussion. We first observed the back wall of the excavation, carefully examining the layers of sediments. We followed a gray sandy layer containing some volcanic ash – and this ash does not contain stone artifacts. We saw that this gray layer started to dip down in the center, forming what could be the bank of a channel. We then discussed the meaning of these layers and gave our opinions of their meaning, often asking new questions.
Soon Kay was able to answer assuredly our first question and confirm that a channel had formed, and the site was sitting in the channel. She added, ‘This channel had a life.’ In other words, the channel can be found outside of the site, and it had a complex history with other paleo-channels observed in the sediments of the surrounding area. All of this is important to the archeological interpretation because the BOK-2 channel wasn’t just a trough that occasionally filled with water; early humans had occupied the area when it was dry.