Day 4 (June 29, 2011): Work at the Excavation

June 29, 2011

Today started like any other, breakfast at 6:45am sharp. This morning we started with slice of papaya, then a mixture of oatmeal and quinoa, a grain high in protein, followed by chai (milky tea) or coffee, and toast. From sunrise, it looked like it was going to be a hot, sunny morning – and it sure was. Around 7:30, Alison and Katie set off for excavation site BOK-2, while Jenny and I stayed behind to shoot a video.

image of Mt. Olorgesailie with blue sky and white clouds Mt. Olorgesailie landscape The video shows me talking about how we developed a large Smithsonian exhibition on human evolution, which opened last year, and educational programs, including our web site. (If you’re reading this blog, you probably already know that the web site is humanorigins.si.edu.) The video will be my long-distance contribution to a presentation given in late July at the Visitors Studies Association meeting in Chicago. It’s a professional conference that looks at how the experiences of visitors to museums and other public places are evaluated – a way of helping museums serve their audiences in the best possible way. With the grand vista of the Rift Valley in the background, my presentation could be one of the more unusual talks at the meeting.

a hand holding a fossil zebra tooth between thumb and forefinger Fossil zebra tooth from BOK-2 It wasn’t long into the excavations today that another curious discovery was made at BOK-2. Like yesterday, today we discovered another tooth, again with stone artifacts all around the same area. Only this time it was a tooth from a different kind of animal—an equid tooth. An equid is a member of the horse family, Equidae , like the zebras that are found in Africa today. What does this mean? Just as the crocodile tooth showed us that there must have been water nearby, so too the equid tooth demonstrates something about the ancient habitat. Since all horses (including zebras) eat grass, the equid tooth shows that grass must also have been close by when early humans were making tools at the site.

The afternoon was quiet as excavations at both sites continued as normal. Tomorrow morning Alison and I will leave camp to travel to Nairobi. Stay tuned to learn more about life at Kampi Safi!