The Turkana Basin Field school has switched timescales again. In ecology we were learning about the rapid impact modern humans are having on our environment, particularly in the Turkana Basin. In Geology we stepped way back to take a longer view of the basin’s evolution, starting with the Cretaceous rocks of the Basin (about 70 million years old) and tracing the roots of the modern lake through the evolution of the Omo River and Great Rift.
In our Archaeology module, Dr. Alison Brooks is taking us through the last 2.6 million years of geological history. This date marks the beginning of the archaeological record (for the time being) when the earliest stone tools start to turn up in sediments along with the remains of our ancient bipedal ancestors and the extinct elephants, giraffes and dirk-toothed cats they shared the landscape with.
Dr. Brooks is a professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and a researcher with the Smithsonian. Her research has taken her from prehistoric France to the Kalahari Desert. The Kalahari project combined observation and interviews with the Khoisan – or “bushmen” – who are among the last hunter-gatherers left in Africa. This means Dr. Brooks and her family speak one of the click language of the Khoisan fluently.