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LAETOLI

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