Welcome to part two of our Lomekwi journey! During the second week, we went on a day trip to Nariokotome, went swimming in the lake, and spent more time at the site. The last blog post left off on Saturday the 4thof August. On Sunday we had a rest day, and so decided to take a walk up the dry river bed next to the West Turkana Archaeological Project (WTAP) camp to a running stream that collects in small pools. The water was chilly, but it was a nice respite from the equatorial heat. We stayed there for the morning and came back to camp to eat lunch. After lunch, we took a trip to a beach on the shore of Lake Turkana and swam around in the waves until it was time to come back to camp for dinner. The next day, we went back to continue work at the trenches we had been digging near to the Lomekwi 3 archaeological site, and when we came home we had a celebration for Samar’s 21st birthday, topping off the evening with some delicious chocolate cake.
On Tuesday, we took a trip up to Nariokotome, a town a few hours north of the Lomekwi 3 site and research area. We started off the day by going to the monument commemorating the discovery of The Nariokotome Boy, the almost complete fossil skeleton of a juvenile human ancestor, called Homo erectus, that was discovered in 1984. After that, we continued on to the town of Nariokotome. One of our TBI staff, Francis Emekwi is from Nariokotome, and invited us all into his home so that we could see how Turkana people live. Just before lunch, we visited the medical clinic in town, and learned about how healthcare works in remote areas of Turkana, like Nariokotome. We ate lunch in a shady spot next to a dry river bed, and then drove on to see some other stone tool sites in the area. These sites are all located along the Kokiselei river (currently dry) and relate to two stone tool traditions that followed the Lomekwian. These are called the Oldowan and Acheulean industries, and here we learned about the evolution of complexity in stone tools over time.
On Wednesday, we went back to the Lomekwi research area, and helped close the excavation trenches, to protect them for the next season. At the large Lomekwi 3 trench, we helped place large rocks along the walls of the excavation to prevent erosion and learned a bit more about the site itself and the fossils that have been found there alongside the stone tools. After lunch back at the camp, Dr. Lewis gave us all a lecture on the earliest human ancestors, or hominins; where they were found, and why they are important for understanding human evolution.
Thursday was our last full day in the Lomekwi research area. In the morning, we went into the closest town to us, Katiko, and took a look at the medical clinic there to compare it to the one at Nariokotome, which gave us a better understanding of how healthcare is provided around Lake Turkana. After that, we went to a beach close to Katiko town, swimming and enjoying the sun and the breeze from the lake until it was time to go back to camp for lunch. In the afternoon, we again walked to the stream close to the WTAP camp and went for another swim. We then came back, and our resident director Lucia gave the students a beginner-level lesson in Kiswahili, the language spoken widely across eastern Africa. We capped off the evening with another birthday cake celebrating Kristen’s 21st birthday.
We came back to TBI Friday morning and made it back in time for lunch. The remainder of the day was spent resting and appreciating the amazing accommodations provided to us by TBI. We had yet another birthday cake after dinner, as it was Dr. Lewis’ birthday. Overall it was a long trip to Lomekwi, and we’re happy to be back at TBI, but I know I’m not just speaking for myself when I say memories were made that will last a lifetime. We’ve got some exciting things planned for our last week here in Kenya, we’ll keep you posted!