1999 Field Season: Day 20

July 14, 1999

At Site B7/8-1, our improvised plastic coverings held up, and we were able to extract the last of the bones from the second lift without any problems. We decided to take the excavation down one more spit (the ninth at this site) in order to ensure that we had indeed unearthed all artifacts and fossils. Pretty quickly after beginning work on this spit, we uncovered another bone; what appears to be another of the ribs. However, the rib appears isolated, and we haven't hit many stone tools as yet in this layer, so we think that this spit may be the last one for this site. We will need to bring the transit team back out for a final lift of the last few stone tools and this rib at a later time.

The rain didn't have much effect on the hardness of the sediments, but it did reduce the dust covering the slopes of the basin, and, therefore, the fossils and tools on those slopes. We sent a survey team out to the "Lava Peninsula," a ridge of basaltic rocks that stretches to the north of our Locality C. Lava Peninsula is an interesting part of the Olorgesailie story. Previous researchers considered it an important landscape feature of the basin, and thus to the early humans who inhabited the basin. However, our research has shown that the majority of Lava Peninsula was actually covered by sediments by the end of Member 1 times (~990,000 years ago) and therefore could not have been a factor after that. It is only in recent times that it has been lifted by faults and uncovered by erosion.

Several years ago, we noticed by chance in the brush on top of Lava Peninsula that there were tools and clusters of fossils coming out of pockets of sediment trapped between the boulders that make up the peninsula. Our survey concentrated on searching for newly eroded pockets of fossil from around the old excavation pits. We found a lot of fossil material on the surface, along with stone flakes and several good examples of handaxes. In a couple of areas, we found concentrations of stone flakes which could possibly represent a single visit by early humans where they fashioned stone tools at the site. It is likely that the toolmakers from Site 15 (the Elephant Site) also visited Lava Peninsula, since today's discoveries between the boulders were in the same soil that can be traced between the two sites.

Chris Bolton examines stone tool flakes on the surface of Lava Peninsula.
A cluster of stone tools.