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Day 39 (August 3, 2011): Closing BOK-2

August 3, 2011

Four people sitting on the edge of an excavation pit with pens and plastic bags in their hands and many labeled bags surrounding them
Alison, John, Katie, and Wambua work to the last minute of the excavations at BOK-2.
After a very productive season of over 2000 artifacts, it’s time to wrap up the excavations at BOK-2.  At one point, it seemed like the artifacts would never stop coming, no matter how far the team dug. Eventually, the excavators hit the grey tuff – you may recall (on Day 27) , Kay helped us determine that the grey tuff is part of an older layer (Member 9 of the Olorgesailie Formation). The team has now reached this older layer in every area of the excavation, and we’ve reached the end of the Middle Stone Age finds at this site.

The crew has spent the last few days doing final digs in preparation for the last lift today.  Katie and John were writing bags (each artifact gets its own bag) down to the last minute. Mativo and the other transit experts meticulously recorded the location of each remaining artifact until, finally, they were finished!

Three men stand close together in the corner of the excavation site, one holds a prism pole. Others sit at their feet excavating. Off in the distance on a hill is the transit.
The transit experts record the final artifacts from BOK-2.
The work, however, was still not quite over. After all the artifacts were removed in the morning, Alison, John, and Katie returned to the site in the afternoon to take one more close look at the excavation walls.  They wrote detailed notes in the field book about geologic structures, the final dimensions of the site, and the various types of sediment encountered in the excavation. Alison created a very detailed geological sketch of the excavation walls using graphing paper and a line level with string. These notes will be useful several months from now during analysis.

After all the notes were taken, Sila Nzivo, one of the crew members, hammered in any loose nails and finally removed the grid strings from the floor, signifying the end of the excavations at BOK-2.

Back at camp, there was still more work to be done. When the results are published, the paper will need to include illustrations of artifacts. Thus, Alison and Katie spent part of the afternoon going through every tray of artifacts and choosing the best pieces to be illustrated.

Two women in a shaded area of the research camp, stand on opposite sides of a table sorting through many labeled plastic ziploc bags
Alison and Katie sort through hundreds of artifacts from BOK-2, choosing pieces for illustration
After 10 years of excavations at BOK-2, the team is very happy with the results. Now it’s time to get back to the lab, examine the artifacts in great detail – and start writing!