Olduvai Gorge

Olduvai Gorge and monolith

Olduvai Gorge and monolith

I had the profound pleasure of visiting the world’s hub of paleoanthropological sites in the Serengeti Plains of Tanzania Africa. It is here where scientists have been studying and collecting evidence of the origins of homo sapiens for over a century.


Located in the Rift Valley, Olduvai Gorge is a 30 mile long ravine in northeastern Tanzania.  Millions of years ago it was a large lake.  Then approximately 500,000 years ago seismic activity created a stream diversion that cut into the sediments revealing seven layers in the gorge’s wall.  There is a huge monolith there in which these layers can be seen.


Olduvai-Gorge-siteAs we stood in the ravine we could look up onto the ridge and see the Leakey residence. In 1959 Mary Leakey discovered the well-preserved cranium of an early hominid here, proving that this was the earliest scene of human activity.  Use of stone tools, scavenging, hunting, and other early human activity have been documented in this area.


Archaeologists and paleoanthropologists have sifted through the dirt and sand here, making discoveries of immense impact on human evolution.  For more info about the Olduvai Gorge, click here.  There’s also some good panoramic photos of the Olduvai Gorge at this site.


It was quiet here, way out in the Rift Valley.  And deeply thrilling to be standing in a place where 1.9 million years ago early humans roamed.  The relatively youthful humans of the 20th and 21st centuries still roam here, always adding more to our shifting knowledge of humans on earth.  Pretty impressive.

"The skull of Australopithecus boisei Zinjanthropus was found here by M.D. Leakey July 17, 1959"

“The skull of Australopithecus boisei Zinjanthropus was found here by M.D. Leakey July 17, 1959”


Photo credit:  Athena Alexander

28 thoughts on “Olduvai Gorge

    • When Mary Leakey made the Australopithecus discovery and it was confirmed that this spot was where the first humans lived, the study of human evolution changed forever. You’re right, Kirt, I felt pretty lucky to walk around here. I am delighted you enjoyed the post. 😀

  1. What an experience… to be connected to the first humans… and imagine being Mary Leakey discovering the cranium… and I remember very clearly as a child when this was anounced.

  2. What an extraordinary and wonderful experience that must have been. And it looks as though the place has been left a wilderness… no Leakey Theme Park, Olduvai Burger outlets etc. Presumably it is a Protected Area and Athena hasn’t just done some nifty cropping (I do so hope I’m right…). RH

    • lol. You are so right, RH. There’s a little bitty shed with a few humble replicas and a bathroom. In America we have more hooplah over the biggest ball of string. Glad you enjoyed the post! 😀

  3. Thrilling narrative by a great traveller ! Revolutionary evolution of the area and a tremendous monolith etched by the ruthless time that leaves nothing unchanged !!! Superb post with incredible anthropological and archeological elements !
    Great the journey to the Olduvai Gorge with you,dear Jet 🙂

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