Preserving hominid footprints. Reburial or museum display?
Within the framework of the national project to re-excavate the world heritage site Laetoli in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of Arusha, Tanzania, Prof. Dr. Stefan Simon, director of the Rathgen-Forschungslabor, has been elected to the committee that will advise local authorities on excavation techniques, the presentation of the famous hominid footprints and in-situ conservation.
The trail of hominid footprints discovered in 1978 was preserved in powdery, volcanic ash which was subsequently cemented to a fragile tuff by soft rain. The layers of ash containing the footprints stem from the Pliocene era and according to the K-Ar dating method are between 3.5 and 3.7 million years old.
The new excavations began in February 2011, accompanied by analyses of physico-mechanical properties, climatic conditions, and required conservation measures. These analyses partly stem from Rathgen-Forschungslabor academic projects.
Project partner: Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, United Republic of Tanzania
Funding: Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, United Republic of Tanzania
Duration: 2010 to date