By Jon Kalb
As co-founder of the day trip that came upon Lucy, and chief of lots of the first site-surveys within the Afar melancholy in Ethiopia, Jon Kalb has years of expertise with the zone, its politics, and the scientists inquisitive about the excavations. A player himself within the "bone wars" that observed those discoveries, Kalb recounts the cutthroat festival and again stabbing that have been usually a part of the media-highlighted race to discover the oldest hominid fossil. He weaves this tale within the wealthy textile of Ethiopian society and politics, the plight of the areas peoples, and the foreign maneuverings for keep an eye on of the fossil unearths.
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Additional resources for Adventures in the Bone Trade: The Race to Discover Human Ancestors in Ethiopia's Afar Depression
The clinic served both the plantation employees and the local Afar. Its one doctor told us that Ali did not have venereal disease—that was rare among the Afar. Rather, he had glandular tuberculosis, which had particularly attacked the lymph glands around his genital area. He explained that tuberculosis was common among the Afar, fostered by malnourishment and the close living quarters of the nomad dwellings. However, because the Afar were never, or rarely, exposed to antibiotics, they responded amazingly well to treatment.
Rifts serve as structural “traps” simply because rivers flowing into these deep linear depressions from adjacent highlands carry with them sediments that rapidly accumulate on the rift floor or on the bottom of rift valley lakes. Any remains of animals or stone tools left by humans are quickly buried. Subsequent erosion by modern rivers then exposes these remains to the surface, as does the faulting of strata associated with ongoing rifting. While I was reading about the Afar, it occurred to me that if a rift valley is an ideal setting for preserving fossils and artifacts, then what about three rift valleys intersecting in one place?
I showed him the proposal that Duncan Dow had sent me for work in the middle Awash Valley, and after talking at length, we agreed to conduct joint field work during his planned trip to Ethiopia that November and December. He would provide a Land Rover, and we would share field costs. After agreeing to help Maurice round up equipment and supplies for our pending field work, I jumped on an Ethiopian Airlines jet at the packed Orly Airport. 14 I recalled a few days earlier charging up the steps of the Royal Society building at 6 Carlton House Terrace.