Camping trip to Nariokotome

|Camping trip to Nariokotome

On Thursday the students set off for a 3-day camping trip to Nariokotome with Dr. Lisa Hildebrand and Dr. Sonia Harmand. En route, we stopped off at two archaeological sites.

The first was the Kalokol pillar site where Dr. Lisa Hildebrand has previously excavated as part of her research on the early spread of pastoralism through Africa. This monument was first created during the Early Holocene and still holds significance to the Turkana people today, who place large pebbles in small piles at the site as a sign of respect.

Dr. Lisa Hildebrand explains the Kalokol pillar site to the student

Dr. Lisa Hildebrand explains the Kalokol pillar site to the student

The Kalokol pillar site

The Kalokol pillar site

The second stop was at Lokalalei 2a, 2b and 2c, which are Oldowan sites that are still very rich in stone tools. Dr. Sonia Harmand showed a few examples and then distributed coloured flags between the students so they could flag their own as they scanned the surface. After they had all ran out of flags, Sonia then went through flagged areas to check how well they had done. Tough luck! Most of them were just natural rocks!

Dr. Sonia Harmand shows the students some Oldowan tools at  Lokalalei

Dr. Sonia Harmand shows the students some Oldowan tools at Lokalalei

They learned pretty fast though, and within minutes of getting to the second site nearby they were experts in Oldowan tool identification.

After a long but fun day the students arrived at the campsite where the staff welcomed them with hot drinks and biscuits.

The next day we set off early to the site of Nariokotome where the most complete Homo erectus specimen was uncovered. Francis recounted that at the time of the discovery he was a young boy sitting in a tree nearby watching with intent curiosity as the palaeoanthropologists worked there. Little did he know that he would end up working alongside those same people today.

Francis shows us his best Turkana Boy impression as he stands on the spot where the skull was found  in 1984

Francis shows us his best Turkana Boy impression as he stands on the spot where the skull was found in 1984

After a brief stop back at camp we proceeded to Kokiselei where there are a number of Early Stone Age sites. Dr. Sonia Harmand took us on a round tour of the sites in the area starting with Kokiselei 1, then 5, 4 and 6. Kokiselei 4 was particularly interesting for the students as it was an Acheulean site as opposed to the others which are Oldowan. Here the students tested their skills at identifying the various tool types of this culture.

The students duck into the truck to avoid acacia branches

The students duck into the truck to avoid acacia branches

Luisa looking at a possible stone tool as students go tool hunting in Kokiselei

Luisa looking at a possible stone tool as students go tool hunting in Kokiselei 1

Dr. Sonia Harmand quizzes the students on the different types of stone tools

Dr. Sonia Harmand quizzes the students on the different types of Acheulean stone tools at Kokiselei 4

Dr. Sonia Harmand tells the students about the Oldowan site of Kokiselei 5 where she led previous excavations

Dr. Sonia Harmand tells the students about the Oldowan site of Kokiselei 5 where she led previous excavations

Following a lunch break under a shady tree near Kokiselei 6, the students headed down to the Kokiselei laga to collect phonolite cobbles and basalt hammerstones to take back to TBI for knapping. They then visited Nadung’a where there is a stromatolite formation to collect red and green rhyolite for knapping too.

At Nadung'a student look for rhyolite cobbles to take back to TBI for knapping

At Nadung’a students look for rhyolite cobbles to take back to TBI for knapping

At the end of the day some students headed to the Lake for a cool-off in the water. On the way, they passed by Francis’ house to pick up his brother and some of his children that were coming for a swim too.

Group photo at Lake Turkana with Francis and his children

Group photo at Lake Turkana with Francis and his children

Students wade through the inlet to get to the lake shore for a refreshing swim

Students wade through the inlet to get to the lake shore for a refreshing swim

Back at camp, the students that had stayed started a small camp-fire; and after a delicious dinner we all got together, talked, played some music and had a little sing-a-long. It was a great evening.

Students gather round the camp-fire for some music, singing and merry conversation

Students gather round the camp-fire for some music, singing and merry conversation

The next day it was time to pack up and return back to TBI. Both students and staff had a lot of fun!

The campsite at Nariokotome

The campsite at Nariokotome on the last morning

After 2 very exciting days the student cross the Turkwel River back to TBI

After 3 very exciting days the student cross the Turkwel River back to TBI

By | 2017-01-04T18:05:03+00:00 November 13th, 2013|Field Schools|Comments Off on Camping trip to Nariokotome

About the Author:

Hi! I am Kat Warren and I am the Teaching Assistant for the Spring 2014 field school. While I am here I am also involved in the African Fossils Project (africanfossils.org) where I am 3D-scanning modern African fauna, fossils and archaeological material. I am a recent graduate in Archaeological Science from the University of Sheffield and my current interests lie in the evolution of cognition, and primate behaviour as a means to understand the cognitive frameworks of our earliest ancestors.