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.
As 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.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander