Trip to Lothagam

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Hi, we’re Eloise and Stacey, third year Archaeology and Anthropology students from University College London. We are interested in hominin evolution and behaviour, as well as past environments.

Just three days into the geology module, it was time for a two day camping trip to Lothagam, an ancient lake and river bed system to the south of TBI. We packed up our stuff, ready for a night under the stars. After a couple of hours in the truck, we arrived at our camp site; a dried out river bed with a nice big doum palm for shade.

Alex prepared for some intense sun at Lothagam

Alex prepared for some intense sun at Lothagam.

Before lunch Dr. Chris Lepre took us on a short hike up one of the twin ridges, on which we came across many fossilised animal bones and stone tools. Chris explained that we were probably at a Late Stone Age site and those of us with a GPS marked its position. On the way back to camp we stopped off at the Lothagam pillar site. It is not known what the purpose of these pillars was, but it is known that they are dated to the beginning of the use of agricultural practices in the area.

Stacey enjoying the view.

Stacey enjoying the view.

Stone circles at the Lothagam pillar site.

Stone circles at the Lothagam pillar site.

After some lunch and some card games in the shade, we set off on another hike up the second of the twin ridges. On the far side, we reached some large sand dunes which provided some entertainment, with people running up and down them. Then we went back to the river bed to set up camp, where we each had a rolled up mattress complete with sheets and blanket, and a mosquito net hung from a rope strung between the two trucks. After a hearty dinner and more card games, everyone fell asleep under the stars.

Group photo on top of the ridge.

Group photo on top of the ridge.

Our bedroom for the night.

Our bedroom for the night.

On the second day of our trip, everyone was up bright and early at 6am for the big hike. We started off walking along the ancient river bed, looking at the stratigraphy of the sedimentary deposits. Then we reached an ancient lake site; in the heat, it was difficult to picture how the landscape used to be, filled with nice cold water. However, Chris managed to bring it to life.

Letty, Stacey and Alex enjoying the shade.

Letty, Stacey and Alex enjoying the shade.

Layer of shells indicates the past lake shoreline.

Layer of shells indicates the past lake shoreline.

We continued with the hike, stopping many times along the way to look at interesting stones and fossils. Eventually, we reached an old river gorge, which had very impressive rock formations, and clambered down to the level of the old lake, where there was a nice big tree providing us with shade whilst we refueled with biscuits, ready for the hike back.

Letty admiring the gorge.

Letty admiring the gorge.

Students resting under the tree.

Students resting under the tree.

Alex was a bit more adventurous in her choice of resting place.

Alex was a bit more adventurous in her choice of resting place.

We hiked back along the same route. The hike was about 10km in total (according to Stacey’s GPS), and we returned to camp in time for lunch before heading back to TBI, tired, dusty, and ready for a much anticipated shower. The trip was great fun and a good introduction to many of the geological ideas we would cover over the next week and a half.

By | 2017-01-04T18:04:52+00:00 October 4th, 2014|Field Schools|Comments Off on Trip to Lothagam

About the Author:

Hello! I am Abby Koppa, the TBI Field School TA for Fall 2014, a third-year PhD student at Stony Brook University in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, and a TBI Graduate Fellow. My research interests include the nutritional and mechanical properties of East African savanna plants, paleoecology, and hominin paleodiet.