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Scientists Research First Stone Tool Industries in Olduvai Gorge

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Author Topic: Scientists Research First Stone Tool Industries in Olduvai Gorge  (Read 325 times)
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« on: December 24, 2012, 02:31:27 am »

To find answers, the team will be reappraising the chronological stratigraphy of Bed II, known to have yielded previous significant finds, and will be re-excavating some of the later beds of the best known fossil and stone tool sites. These beds reveal a record of a very important time period (1.79 - 1.15 million years ago), a record that contains evidence of critical changes in the area's fauna, stone tools and climate, such as the disappearance of Homo habilis, a very early hominin and possible human ancestor, and the emergence of Homo erectus, a later hominin considered to be the earliest human ancestor to exit Africa and spread across Eurasia. Scientists suggest that these same beds may include evidence of the long-sought transition from the more primitive Oldowan stone tools to the appearance of the more advanced Acheulean tools. Recent research at Olduvai has focused primarily on earlier beds, so research on these later beds will likely present new data to consider. Four key previously excavated sites will be investigated through full-scale excavation.

More specifically, the team's objectives are including the following activities:

    Conducting test pits (very limited, targeted excavations) at selective Bed II sites that have been determined to contain possible evidence related to the emergence of Acheulean tools at Olduvai;
    Applying the new landscape sampling approach across Middle and Upper Bed II deposits and conducting random test pits in the various paleo-ecological settings;
    Applying advanced dating methodologies to Bed II volcanic ashes to produce higher-resolution, more accurate dates for Bed II locations;
    Measuring stratigraphic sections at and between key archaeological sites to determine their relative order and paleoecological contexts;
    Determining the correlation of volcanic ash layers between sites to test previous proposed correlations and then establishing the basin-wide stratigraphic framework for Bed II; and finally,
    Reconstructing the paleo-environments at Olduvai during the 1.7-1.3 Ma time period.

Additional information about the Olduvai Geochronology Archaeology Project can be obtained at the project website.

For information about how to participate in the research, go to the information page at the Institute for Field Research.
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