Found: our 3m-year-old forebear who lived alongside ‘Lucy’

Scientists get their teeth into A. deyiremeda fossils. Credit: Laura Dempsey
Scientists get their teeth into A. deyiremeda fossils. Credit: Laura Dempsey – via The Conversation

I wrote a piece for The Conversation about Australopithecus deyiremeda – a brand new and previously unsuspected species. You can read it here.

Cheers,

Mac

Postcard from South Africa #4

One of the clearer rock art images from the site we called Round-the-Corner
One of the clearer rock art images from the site we called Round-the-Corner

Today we make the long drive from the border down to the south of Kruger and sadly neither Clare nor I are able to share in the driving so it is all on poor Johan, but he is very laid back about it all. As you’ll expect from me by now, the prospect of a long drive across South Africa is something I am looking forward to.

But first a real treat. A bush walk with Brigitta who showed us Koaxa’s Shelter yesterday. Its early morning and before breakfast but the bush is already alive with sounds and movement, hopefully nothing that’s planning on making us breakfast. The Mopane Bush Lodge takes its name from the mopane trees with their distinctive double winged leaves. They are everywhere and our walk is along narrow game trails. Brigitta cautions us to silence as there are leopard in the area, and Johan adds we should watch out for water buffalo too. Johan has a very healthy respect for these dangerous critters. Whenever I am out in the bush I can’t help thinking about hominins. With enclosing mopane all around us, and rustlings in the undergrowth, it reminds me of just how dangerous a life our earliest ancestors led.

Then its breakfast, and the long drive south. For me this is a day of pure pleasure. Effectively we parallel the western side of Kruger Park. Kruger is huge, 360 km long. As we travel south the view through windscreen is increasingly dominated by the Drakensberg Mountains. We pass the entrance to Blyde River Canyon, a breathtakingly spectacular gorge, a favourite of mine from the old days. This section is known as the Drakensberg escarpment, separating Kruger and the Lowveld, from the Highveld and central plateau to the west. It is amazing.

We arrive at the Malelane gate in southern Kruger in the dark and Johan has a meal and a well-deserved early night, as does Clare. I opt for a well-deserved G&T and the wi-fi, on the balcony which overlooks the river. In the darkness beyond is Kruger. I can’t help thinking about how hominins would have fared at night out there. My old friend Rob Hosfield has been on about this for a while, and listening to the night sounds across the river I think he is on to something.

In retrospect checking e-mail was a mistake.

Thursday 7th May.

An early start and we are heading through Kruger for Berg-en-Dal camp. In Afrikaans this means mountains and dales. It’s a fitting name for this part of the park. My earlier trips to Kruger were in the middle sections of the park which are much flatter. We meet our two guides Rasta and Peter, and we are off hunting for rock art sites. The morning is taken up with a visit to three of them.

This is real adventure stuff as we leave the vehicles and head off into the bush on foot with Peter in front and Rasta bringing up the rear, rifles loaded and ready. I ask the two of them if the places we visit have names, but they shake their heads. We call them Rasta’s Shelter, Peter’s Koppie, and Round-the-Corner rock, though I presume the rock art specialists who will have studied these sites have other names for them. There is a clear difference between these sites and Koaxa’s Shelter up north. To start with they are much more exposed to the elements and the images have suffered more. They are paler and the paintings more difficult to see. Peter and Rasta who haven’t visited these sites for a few years shake their heads sadly. The images have deteriorated a lot since they were last here. ‘Gone soon.’ says Rasta who really cares about these sites. They are an interesting contrast to Koaxa’s Shelter and important if for no other reason than they show the range and diversity of the art, as well as the problems faced in conserving it.

From left to right, Rasta, Peter, Clare and Johan standing in front of the art at the site we called Peter's Koppie
From left to right, Rasta, Peter, Clare and Johan standing in front of the art at the site we called Peter’s Koppie

Peter hands out biltong and we trek back. At one point Peter makes the stop sign. We all freeze, and I just know Johan is thinking buffalo. He’s got me at it too. False alarm. A bit further on and the guys are excited about some prints – possibly cheetah – they haven’t been seen this far south in the park for a while. Again I am thinking of hominins moving through these landscapes while everything out there is bigger fiercer, stronger, and has bigger teeth. It’s a wonder we actually made it!

The afternoon is taken up with a game drive. We see plenty of elephant, buffalo and giraffe and a nervous family of warthogs. A rhino comes close to the van but we stay quiet and he wanders off. Those poor hominins.

It’s been another memorable day and the game drive was just excellent. I’ll never forget walking through the bush though, that was real Africa too. Another quiet evening on the veranda with a G&T, smoking my e-pipe. This time I wise up, I leave the wi-fi alone.

Friday 8th May

Today is our last day in South Africa, and both Clare and I are feeling rather sad about leaving. It has been a magical trip. We drive up the N4 leaving the Lowveld and climbing the escarpment at Ondervalle where Paul Kruger had his house in the last days of the Boer war – again Johan fills the landscape with stories and history. Were back on the Highveld and heading for Joburg.

Our last stop is the University of the Witwatersrand and the new (well new since my day) Evolutionary Studies Institute. Wow. Dr Bernard Zipfel gives us a tour and we get to see the new study centre with its facilities for researchers to come and study A. sediba, Littlefoot and the Taung child, and so many other of the famous fossils that have made South Africa such an important place for the human story. The museum attached is just fantastic. But beware, there is something lurking in wait here that’s far more dangerous than Johan’s buffalo – the bookshop. Boy did the bank account take a beating in that particular hominin trap.

I also get to see my old friend Professor Kathy Kuman though sadly there is too little time to talk with her about her work and what her students are up to.

Then it’s the airport and sadly goodbye to Johan.

Clare and I have many happy memories to take away, new friends made and old ones revisited. I have seen more of a country I passionately love and learned more about some of the best archaeology in the world.

Really, I wish you all had been here to share it.

Mac

Clive Gamble interviewed by Matt Pope on BBC Radio Four

Clive Gamble was interviewed by Matt Pope for the BBC Radio Four “History of Ideas”. Matt is a member of the AHRC Project: Crossing the Threshold: Dynamic transformation in human societies of the Late Middle Pleistocene project.

The audio is available on the BBC Radio Four website. It was broadcast on Friday 30 Jan 2015. Clive’s section begins at around 2 minutes 40s in, where he talks about the evolutionary trade off between larger brains and smaller intestines. So bigger brains and shrinking guts require higher quality foods and increased technological sophistication. Clive suggests that we could not have survived, in the form we are, without technologies such as fire and stone tools.

You can read Clive’s contributions to this blog via his author page.

Postcard #4 from the CAHO trip to France

Sadly we didn’t get into Font-de-Gaume, the beautiful painted cave at one end of the village of Les Eyzies. They limit the numbers in order to protect the paintings, and we couldn’t really argue with that. So it was over to Cap Blanc and the amazing sculpted frieze of horses dated to the Magdalenian. Some […]

Sadly we didn’t get into Font-de-Gaume, the beautiful painted cave at one end of the village of Les Eyzies. They limit the numbers in order to protect the paintings, and we couldn’t really argue with that. So it was over to Cap Blanc and the amazing sculpted frieze of horses dated to the Magdalenian. Some thirteen metres of white limestone wall have been sculpted into a magnificent procession of horses. Today the site is on a wooded slope of the River Beune, but originally it would have been set in a treeless landscape and the frieze would have had a greater visibility, as would its location within the broader terrain. Another feature which emphasises how differently these images would have been consumed by their original makers and observers is that there is evidence at Cap Blanc for pigment on the frieze itself. It’s a memorable and thought provoking site, nicely reconstructed along with the Magdalenian burial in front of the frieze.

The team outside Cap Blanc; from left to right Cathy Lovell, Jo Bingham, Sarah Schwartz, Tanner Wilkerson, William Davies, Paul Bingham, and kneeling Christian Hoggard and Adam Donnelly, with Mac behind the camera.

The team outside Cap Blanc; from left to right Cathy Lovell, Jo Bingham, Sarah Schwartz, Tanner Wilkerson, William Davies, Paul Bingham, and kneeling Christian Hoggard and Adam Donnelly, with Mac behind the camera.

 We drove north that afternoon (Sunday), camping just south of Nemours in the evening. The following day was one of the most memorable of the whole trip. I know I have waxed lyrical on how good it has all been (and it has), but this was such a great finale.

The morning and early afternoon was spent in Musee departmental de prehistoire de’Ile-de-France at Nemours. This museum covers the area around Paris and includes some of the most important and informative sites on Magdalenian life ever found such as Pincevent and Etiolles (which we visited on our last trip). The Nemours museum, perhaps as much as any other we visited, shows the careful thought that has been put into the use of space, in this case juxtaposing inside space with outside. Each archaeological period, or sub-period, has a room to itself displaying objects and items from local excavations and archaeological sites. The rooms are flooded with natural light and in each is a large window. They look out onto gardens with representative examples of trees, bushes and grasses from each of the periods. It is a spectacular effect. Our guide Jean-Luc Rieu enthusiastically took us through the magnificent prehistoric displays, and then loaded the students down with freebies – so he was popular.  Our last stop for the day, and this trip, was the magnificent Magdalenian site of Pincevent. We have to record our sincerest appreciation to Maurice Hardy and Pierre Bodu for giving us such a memorable tour round the site. This weekend was the 50th anniversary of the site’s first excavation. An impressive eight hundred visitors came to the celebration, as befitting such a world famous site. Despite being tired the team welcomed us with open arms, gave us a beer (nice people), and gave us a tour of the site that I for one will never forget.

Pierre Bodu showing us the site of the original Pincevent excavations from the early 1960s

Pierre Bodu showing us the site of the original Pincevent excavations from the early 1960s

The famous three hearths from Professor Leroi-Gourhan’s excavation are preserved as a cast and it was great to see the evidence for the different zones next to each hearth where knappers sat and different activities occurred. My old supervisor, Mark Newcomer, worked on the technology and refitting from the site, so I was familiar with some of the reconstructions of Magdalenian life from this site. It’s the quality of preservation that really grabs you. Annual inundations of fine sediments from the River Seine preserved everything. Tools and debitage are tightly wrapped around obvious hearths and it is so easy to people the scatters with Magdalenian knappers: again this one of those sites where fitting the people back into the Palaeolithic location is not difficult – so different from the Lower Palaeolithic (but then that’s the challenge!! – and the fun).

 It’s been an amazing trip with some very thought provoking archaeology and beautiful scenery. I’ll sign off now and pop this in the post, before heading for the boat.

 Au revoir from France,

Mac, William, Chris, Adam, Tanner, Paul, Sarah, Cathy and Jo.

Postcard #3 from the CAHO trip to France – John McNabb

This morning we visited the famous site of La Ferrassie. Like Le Moustier, it is one of those names to conjour with, it takes you back to undergraduate essays and assignment deadlines just made by the skin of your teeth. New work is going on there at the moment under a joint French and American […]

This morning we visited the famous site of La Ferrassie. Like Le Moustier, it is one of those names to conjour with, it takes you back to undergraduate essays and assignment deadlines just made by the skin of your teeth. New work is going on there at the moment under a joint French and American team. They certainly have their work cut-out for them as they try to get to grips with conflicting stratigraphies and a sequence that is meters deep – actually sounds like great fun. William’s explanation of the convoluted interpretations of the Aurignacian sequence made my head ache, and left me with a profound respect for all those Ph.D students who grapple with the early Upper Palaeolithic – more power to ya.

We drove around for a while after La Ferrassie following its little valley up to the plateau and then back down into the valley of the Vezere. Relatively little is known about the occupation of these plateaux by the Neanderthals who were definitely in the side valleys and the main valley too. From the top you get a much better sense of landscape and of the geography of the Neanderthal/Cro-Magnon world in these ice age refuges and micro-climates. One thing that always impresses me is the amount of re-occupation by modern vegetation that has occurred since the 1920s. Today this part of the Dordogne is lush and green, wooded slopes look over green flood plains. But this is all regrowth within a century. In the earlier part of the last century it was a bare landscape, much more akin to what its late Pleistocene appearance would have been. The old post-cards are a fascinating window on what it looked like. It also reinforces just how productive interglacial climate can be (even with the help of modern humans).

The afternoon was the much anticipated return to the museum in Les Eyzies and its special art exhibition, although I have to be honest I bunked off to drink a lot of coffee and answer e-mails. Good chance to catch up on my postcards too. After a late lunch it was a visit to the Abri Pataud. Hallam Movius Jnr dug there for over a decade and according to our very knowledgeable guide they pulled out more than a million artefacts – top that for a database. When you look down into the deep sections from the visitor balconies you can believe it – it’s a hell of a hole!!! One interesting piece of information from our guide was that the Gravettian woman’s burial with her new born baby involved separating the head from the body and placing it away from the main interment, but also surrounding it with engraved plaquettes.

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Ok so there is no Lower Palaeolithic here (or anywhere apart from La Micoque), but William reminded me that on our first visit a few years ago there was a handaxe on display in Abri Pataud that the Aurignacians must have picked up from the river, resharpened a little, then lost in the rock shelter. It just shows you that even then modern humans recognized real archaeology when they saw it!

Tomorrow we are aiming for a painted cave and an engraved one, before heading back up north to have a peek at Pincevent. I’ll keep you posted.

As ever, wishing you were here,

Mac, William, Cathy, Jo, Sarah, Adam, Tanner Paul and Chris.

CAHO fieldtrip to France Postcard #2

Yesterday (Thursday) we motored down in glorious sunshine from north of Tours straight to Les Eyzies. We arrived mid-afternoon and the students spent the rest of the afternoon in the Museum of Prehistory. The special exhibition of Magdelenian art was particularly impressive and the general feeling was that a return visit is highly likely. Today […]

Yesterday (Thursday) we motored down in glorious sunshine from north of Tours straight to Les Eyzies. We arrived mid-afternoon and the students spent the rest of the afternoon in the Museum of Prehistory. The special exhibition of Magdelenian art was particularly impressive and the general feeling was that a return visit is highly likely.

Today was an amazing day. A brief look-see through the fence at Le Moustier and then off to see Professor Randall White and his team’s excavation at the Aurignacian site of Abri Cellier. We were truly amazed at the amount of work Randy and the team have done in such a short time. They’d had an amazing morning with some spectacular finds made both before we arrived and while we were there which was very exciting for us. Obviously I can’t say what was coming out, but watch out for this site.

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Randy invited us for lunch with his team which was great fun. Then it was back to Le Moustier, this time into the site, to share a talk by Professor Alain Turq with the Abri Cellier crew. When he found out who our guide was, young Chris Hoggard had to be helped out in a near feint.

How do you top that? A whole valley dedicated to the Aurignacian that is how (actually there is other stuff as well, but William was particularly enthusiastic about the Aurignacian) – the Castelmerle Valley.  It is an astonishing site really. Both sides of the valley are a series of connected Abri’s, some with engraved art on the walls and ceilings, others with engravings on small plaquettes of limestone. Randy thinks it was a winter site where Aurignacian groups took refuge in the small micro-climate of this dry valley practicing various craft activities. There are carved loops (pierres a anneaux) set in the roof at the front of the rockshelters from which coverings may have been hung acting as doors to keep the cold out. Randy’s team, when they dug here, found clear evidence for hearths inside the shelters. What got to me more than anything else was how much the site’s interpretation makes the Aurignacian seem personal. The archaeology is too late for me, but I can start to understand the enthusiasm people have for the Aurignacian. Sadly I don’t think I’d make a good Aurignacian hunter though. We all had a go at using spear throwers but I didn’t have the knack. Sarah and Tanner would probably have to be our chief hunters.

Our final site of the day was the great La Micoque. Handaxes at last! As Professor Turq forcefully reminded me this is NOT an abri, its deposits are river terrace aggradations abutting the limestone wall of the valley side. What was done to this site by Otto Hauser makes you weep, but thankfully a determined effort by French researchers in recent years has made much sense of what remains. Tyacian at the base and late(?) Acheulean Micoquian handaxes at the top. It is also, if I remember correctly, the oldest site in the area with the oldest levels near 450 kya.

It was an amazing day and a well-earned beer, or two, when we got back finished off the day perfectly. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Wishing you were here,

Mac, William, Cathy, Jo, Sarah, Tanner, Adam, Paul and Christian

Postcard from France

 

Loading the van
Loading the van

This year’s C.A.H.O. Palaeolithic field trip to France, with the Captain William S. Davies (C.A.H.O.’s new director!!) at the helm.

Today was our first full day in France. We caught the boat from Portsmouth yesterday for a mid-afternoon sailing and were in Caen by late evening. An early start (ish) saw us on the road heading southwards for north central France. You get a real sense of how flat the loess plain is between the coast and Paris as you drive, and of course beneath the fields and trees are a wealth of Late Middle Pleistocene sites waiting to be discovered. Before we started I was priviledged to see a minor miracle in the art – no the science – of putting a large volume of kit into an astonishingly small space as Jo, Sarah and Cathy decided they would take charge of the packing. With nine people and all their gear, this is one thing you have to get right. They did, and we were away.

There were two sites on the afternoon’s agenda. The first was the museum at Grand Pressigny. Wow – a museum dedicated to flint, does it get any better? – well its Neolithic, but you cant have everything. I’d never seen the famous livres de beurre as these big honey coloured cores are called. They are knapped by a PCT for the purpose of making between five and ten long blades. They were knapped by masters of their craft and then traded out of the region, possibly by the makers themselves. It seemed ownership of such a blade, or a knife made from one, may have conferred much prestige on its owner. They are dated to between 2009 and 2003 BC. Like so many French museums this one is a thoughtful blend of detailed information (no dumbing down here) and elegant presentation. This was my first time here, and the museum has not been long open. If you are ever in the area its well worth the detour.

From there it was a short drive to the Roc-aux-Sorciers, another newish museum and another one where presentation and design have been carefully and successfully blended. Here a long freeze of horses, bison, wild goats and other animals was discovered in the 1950s and investigated by Suzanne de Saint-Mathurin and Dorothy Garrod. A modern projection onto a replica of the original rock shelter surface gives a marvellous impression of the contoured surface of the original, and how the artists used the cotours to convey movement within the animal freeze. Being a Lower Palaeolithic man myself I claim no knowledge of this kind of late Magdelenian art, but I was amazed by the two human faces on the freeze, and the stylistically similar ones at la Marche 30-40 km away. There, our guide told us, they have complete figures (and the Roc-aux-Sorciers has copies of them). There is something rather unsettling about looking at a face from 15,000 years ago. The reconstruction and visual show are effective and very atmospheric.

The evening was spent staying with friends of William, Chris and John Lees who lived nearby. We will long remember their kindness and hospitality. Tomorrow we penetrate even further south to fabled Les Eyzies. More from there later.

As always, wishing you were here

Mac, William, Paul, Jo, Cathy, Sarah, Adam, Tanner and Christian

Palaeolithic Fieldtrip to France by Dr John McNabb – Postcard #1

 This year’s CAHO Palaeolithic field trip to France, with the Captain William S. Davies (CAHO’s new director!!) at the helm. Today was our first full day in France. We caught the boat from Portsmouth yesterday for a mid-afternoon sailing and were in Caen by late evening. An early start (ish) saw us on the road […]

 This year’s CAHO Palaeolithic field trip to France, with the Captain William S. Davies (CAHO’s new director!!) at the helm.

Today was our first full day in France. We caught the boat from Portsmouth yesterday for a mid-afternoon sailing and were in Caen by late evening. An early start (ish) saw us on the road heading southwards for north central France. You get a real sense of how flat the loess plain is between the coast and Paris as you drive, and of course beneath the fields and trees are a wealth of Late Middle Pleistocene sites waiting to be discovered. Before we started I was privileged to see a minor miracle in the art – no the science – of putting a large volume of kit into an astonishingly small space as Jo, Sarah and Cathy decided they would take charge of the packing. With nine people and all their gear, this is one thing you have to get right. They did, and we were away.

photo

There were two sites on the afternoon’s agenda. The first was the museum at Grand Pressigny. Wow – a museum dedicated to flint, does it get any better? – well its Neolithic, but you can’t have everything. I’d never seen the famous Livres de Beurre as these big honey coloured cores are called. They are knapped by a PCT for the purpose of making between five and ten long blades. They were knapped by masters of their craft and then traded out of the region, possibly by the makers themselves. It seemed ownership of such a blade, or a knife made from one, may have conferred much prestige on its owner. They are dated to between 2009 and 2003 BC. Like so many French museums this one is a thoughtful blend of detailed information (no dumbing down here) and elegant presentation. This was my first time here, and the museum has not been long open. If you are ever in the area it’s well worth the detour.

Grand

Livres de Beurre at Grand Pressigny.

From there it was a short drive to the Roc-aux-Sorciers, another newish museum and another one where presentation and design have been carefully and successfully blended. Here a long freeze of horses, bison, wild goats and other animals was discovered in the 1950s and investigated by Suzanne de Saint-Mathurin and Dorothy Garrod. A modern projection onto a replica of the original rock shelter surface gives a marvellous impression of the contoured surface of the original, and how the artists used the contours to convey movement within the animal freeze. Being a Lower Palaeolithic man myself I claim no knowledge of this kind of late Magdelenian art, but I was amazed by the two human faces on the freeze, and the stylistically similar ones at la Marche 30-40 km away. There, our guide told us, they have complete figures (and the Roc-aux-Sorciers has copies of them). There is something rather unsettling about looking at a face from 15,000 years ago. The reconstruction and visual show are effective and very atmospheric.

The evening was spent staying with friends of William, Chris and John Lees who lived nearby. We will long remember their kindness and hospitality. Tomorrow we penetrate even further south to fabled Les Eyzies. More from there later.

As always, wishing you were here

Mac, William, Paul, Jo, Cathy, Sarah, Adam, Tanner and Christian.

Update from Tanzania by Dr. John McNabb: A postcard from Africa 4

Sadly this is my last postcard from Africa. We had a quiet weekend reading and discussing various plans for the future. Today (Monday 5th) on the other hand was a busy one. Pastory, James and I had a productive meeting this morning with colleagues and collaborators from the National Museum. This afternoon was another memorable […]

Sadly this is my last postcard from Africa. We had a quiet weekend reading and discussing various plans for the future. Today (Monday 5th) on the other hand was a busy one. Pastory, James and I had a productive meeting this morning with colleagues and collaborators from the National Museum.

Dr. James Cole with a Large LCT at the National Museum in Dar.

@JamesColeArch with a Large LCT at the National Museum in Dar.

This afternoon was another memorable one. The three of us did some teaching for Pastory’s students from the BA and Master’s programs from the University of Dar-es-Salaam, and colleagues from the National Museum. Dr Kwaka, the principle curator for Archaeology at the museum joined us, bringing his invaluable geological experience to the mix. We used artefacts from the Olduvai Gorge collection to illustrate our points. It was amazing to be handling pieces from such famous sites as EF-HR, MNK and FLK, famous names I’d grown up with since my undergraduate days. Pastory, James and I really enjoyed our afternoon, and the students seemed to enjoy it too.

Tomorrow we fly back taking with us the memory of a beautiful country, new friends and colleagues, and some spectacular archaeology. All in all a very productive trip and great fun too.

Wishing you were all here

Mac

Update from Tanzania by Dr. John McNabb: A postcard from Africa 3

Today (Thursday 1st May) is a national holiday in Tanzania so James and I had a more relaxed day visiting the galleries of the National Museum of Tanzania. The museum is an impressive place with really up to date galleries on human evolution and rock art. I took a lot of photos which will make […]

Today (Thursday 1st May) is a national holiday in Tanzania so James and I had a more relaxed day visiting the galleries of the National Museum of Tanzania. The museum is an impressive place with really up to date galleries on human evolution and rock art. I took a lot of photos which will make their way into my lectures. The ethnographic collection also impressed me with the range and variety of material on display, reflecting Tanzania’s rich cultural heritage both past and present. One of the many things that grabbed my attention were the intricate carvings in ebony. There were both ancient and modern examples on display, demonstrating the continuity of this sophisticated tradition of woodworking overtime. Some of them were truly astonishing in their detail. There were representations of devils, multi-bodied, sinuous and intertwined that were quite unsettling.

 

Fig Tree

100 year old Fig tree in front of the National Museum with @JamesColeArch. Taken by Dr. John McNabb

For the past few days we have been systematically working our way through the Isimila archive and stone tool collections in the museum’s Stone Age section. Just walking through the stacks is like listening to a lecture from my undergraduate days; there were draws of Oldowan tools and Acheulean handaxes, and famous site names like MNK, FLK, EFHR, and many others. I could almost hear my old mentor Roger Jacobi lecturing once more on Olduvai Gorge. He had a way of conjuring mind-pictures as he taught that made those far off African landscapes seem alive. To walk through the National Museum’s stacks and peer into the draws brought it all flooding back. Isimila too was part of Roger’s lectures.

It’s a pretty sizeable collection, more than three thousand objects so we weren’t doing any detailed recording on this trip. Our aim was to get to know the collection, look through it and find out what was there. Unfortunately Pastory had teaching commitments in the University so he couldn’t join us. There is a considerable range of material from the old Clark Howell excavations. Some of the nicest handaxes I have ever seen and some of the biggest too, same goes for cleavers. Every time I handle one of these LCTs my respect for the Acheulean knappers increases, especially for their skills in making the flake blanks. They are as impressive and important as the finished artefacts.

Tomorrow it’s back to the museum for more meetings with Tanzanian colleagues and another chance to look at more fantastic archaeology.

Wishing you all were here

Mac