Archaeology Field Journal – June 22, 2007 – Day 14

We returned to the Shompole region again today, our archaeology work for the day was at a new site named Oloika, which was an outcrop of rocks west of the conservation center. Again, this was another massive site, slightly bigger than Lenderut, much bigger than Oloololo and Olkena. As soon as we arrived we began finding bones all around the Land Rover; hippo teeth, tusks and a possible phalange. Dr. Barthelme wanted us to perform a site survey and see what we could uncover. For some reason I was completely knackered. The sky was overcast and the air temperature was in the low 90’s but I still had a hard time mustering the energy to work.

My hard work was rewarded with three finds; a hippo rib, which I was able to correctly identify, a modern donkey tooth, and a massive 16cm horn core. The stratigraphy of Oloika was quite interesting, a lot of gold and tan colored sediments. Most of the fossils seemed to be emerging from a sandy silt layer that was most likely the remnant of a prehistoric shoreline. The location was interesting because the High Magadi layer that is present everywhere else was absent here. Also the bones we were discovering at Oloika were belonged to animals that were much larger in size than previous sites.

On our way out of Shompole, we stopped at the conservation center for a quick lecture on the work that is performed by the park rangers. In theory, the center is a fantastic idea, but poor management, politics and short stockpiles of cash have created countless problems. Too many people are in it for the money and that’s not what it should be about. The environment is also fighting back as the current level of the swamps has cut off tourists from the newly constructed bandas and the park interior.

We stopped in Magadi town on our way back to camp to grab some supplies and cold sodas and were reunited with our favorite Maasai, William. It was a joy to have him back in camp that night. I spent the hour before sunset walking around the lake, it was perfect for clearing my head. Two more days and we head back to Nairobi. I can’t believe that our time here is almost up.

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