Field School Students finish Archaeology of the Turkana Basin

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On Friday 18 November, TBI Students completed their last course, Archaeology of the Turkana Basin, taught by Sonia Harmand. Students learned about the major steps in the development of early technologies in Africa, from the appearance of the first stone tools 2.6 Myrs ago to the Neolithic.

Through practical study, drawing and refitting of archaeological material, the class learned to distinguish knapped stone tools from natural stones:

Jenna drawing an Acheulean handaxe.

Elaine and Hui refitting flakes on an Oldowan core.

Elaine and Hui refitting flakes on an Oldowan core.

The group washing some LSA artefacts.

The group washing some LSA artefacts.

Individual experimental knapping on local volcanic rocks and goat butchering was not only fun but also informative to assess the ability required to create efficient sharp edges:

Experimental knapping on phonolite.

Experimental knapping on phonolite.

Wesley knapping phonolite with a hard hammerstone.

Wesley knapping phonolite with a hard hammerstone.

Kait using a sharp flake to skin the goat.

Kait using a sharp flake to skin the goat.

The skinned goat.

The skinned goat.

Blood tasting by Roy.

Blood tasting by Roy.

Wesley and Jenna smashing a bone to get the marrow.

Wesley and Jenna smashing a bone to get the marrow.

Goat party on Saturday night...

Goat party on Saturday night...

Goat barbecue on Saturday night...

Goat barbecue on Saturday night...

Discussion on several examples of living primate tool use raised the fundamental question of what it means to be human and the cognitive status of early humans and their first technologies:

Nut collecting along the Turkwel river.

Nut collecting along the Turkwel river.

Nut scraping along the Turkwel river.

Nut scraping along the Turkwel river.

Nicole scraping a nut on an anvil.

Nicole scraping a nut on an anvil.

The second week of class, students went on a 3-day field trip to the western shore of Lake Turkana to visit the recently excavated site of Kokiselei 4, the oldest Acheulean site known so far in the world. They got the chance to dig several square meters at the oldowan site of Kokiselei 6 following traditional excavation techniques:

The group at the excavated site of Kokiselei 6.

The group at the excavated site of Kokiselei 6.

The group excavating 5 square meters at the oldowan site of Kokiselei 6.

The group excavating 5 square meters at the oldowan site of Kokiselei 6.

By | 2017-01-04T18:05:22+00:00 December 1st, 2011|Field School|Comments Off on Field School Students finish Archaeology of the Turkana Basin

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