How Pelorovis got stuck in the mud; BK archaeological site, Olduvai Gorge

Tue, 12/03/2019 - 16:30

room 300
Gail Ashley, Rutgers University Abstract: Determining why an archaeological site is located exactly where it is, in space and in time, is crucial to its accurate interpretation. The BK Archaeological Site, Olduvai Gorge, first excavated by Mary & Louis Leakey in the 1950’s and more recently by TOPPP ( Director Manuel Dominguez-Rodrigo) contains the remains of >24 of Pelorovis (one complete skeleton still standing), >3000 faunal remains including other mega fauna, 6,800 lithic pieces and 2 hominins (Paranthropus boisei). Artifacts are found in a stratified fluvial context in 6 discrete levels suggesting repeated occupation. Stone knapping produced flakes from bi-polar loading. The bones display abundant cut marks that indicate defleshing with meat and marrow exploitation by hominins actively engaged in acquiring small to middle-sized animals using strategies other than passive scavenging. Cut-marked bones and tools show little to no evidence of fluvial transport suggesting animals were butchered in place. This talk will report on recent geologic mapping, a new paleoenvironmental reconstruction, phytolith analysis, argon-argon dating, and correlation of the BK site to the regional climate record in order to shed light on the mystery of how Pelorovis got stuck in the mud.
Prof. Gail Ashley