Paper No. 21-1
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM
TAPHONOMIC INVESTIGATIONS AT OLDUVAI GORGE, TANZANIA: CURRENT PROGRESS & DIRECTIONS
As part of The Olduvai Paleoanthropology and Paleoecology Project (TOPPP) we are pursuing both archaeological and modern taphonomic inquiries. At the Bell’s Korongo East site (BKE) in exposed middle Bed II deposits in a small drainage in the south side of the side gorge, we are simultaneously reconstructing ancient alluvial sediment transport processes and battling recent and current colluvial and fluvial sediment transport processes. Therefore, we are pairing dGPS mapping and surface modelling with profile exposure and analysis to excavate stepwise into the korongo wall without exposing too much of the fragile site context to wet season erosion. Profile descriptions include color, bedding structure, texture, sorting, rounding, mineralogy, and any soil characteristics. Through this iterative process we aim to develop a method both to preserve this important site and to guide excavation in the coming years. Near the Shifting Sand Dune we have two modern bone accumulation localities, Olduvai Transect 1 (OT1) representing an open Serengeti Plain environment and Olduvai Transect 2 (OT2), a similar area with standing water in the wet season and tree canopy shelter. For each transect, we collected and plotted 100% of bones, mapped elevation and landscape features with dGPS, and are statistically comparing the bone distributions to each other and analyzing them for clustering, both overall and with landscape features. By increasing understanding of the detailed relationship between modern bone distribution, weathering, and landscape variation, we can better understand the relationship between open and sheltered paleoecologies and archaeological artifact distributions.