Drimolen palaeocave is one of the richest hominin bearing deposit in South Africa and has yielded over 140 fossils of Paranthropus robustus and early Homo as well as 1000s of fossils of a wealth of other species; including a vast collection of non-human primates. The site has also yielded evidence for early bone tool use and has an Mode 1 archaeological assemblage dated to between 2.0 and 1.4 Ma. Every year new hominin fossils have been found on the field school (run since 2013) at Drimolen. In 2015 this included a brand new hominin skull. Since 2014 students have also helped open up a new ~2.2 Ma fossil deposit containing a wealth of articulated partial skeletons, the Drimolen Makondo. In 2018 the field school at Drimolen will run June 8- 29th and will again excavate these two deposits. It will be the first joint field school between La Trobe University Dept Archaeology (Prof Andy Herries), the University of Johannesburg Centre for Anthropological Research (Stephanie Baker) and our new partner, the Dept. Anthropology at Washington University at St Louis (Prof David Strait).
The field school includes training on excavation and survey at the site as well as trips to hominin, fossil and archaeological sites such as Swartkrans, Sterkfontein, Bolt’s Farm and Haasgat; trips to see original hominin fossils such as DNH7 from Drimolen (above), Au. sediba (see below) and many more; plus a safari to Pilanesberg National Park (see below). Students also have lectures covering: Hominin evolution, the S. African Early-Middle and Later Stone Age, geochronology, geoarchaeology, S. African palaeontology and taphonomy. Trips were also made to Wonder Cave to learn about geology and exposure to the use of Ground Penetrating Radar analysis. The main focus of the field school is to introduce students to the South African hominin, fossil and archaeological record and to learn about the scientific study of caves.
The fieldschool is open to students from all countries and universities and in 2014 we have attendees from the US, LTU, UWA and UNSWA. In particularly we are looking for students interested in undertaking honours, Masters or PhD research in Australia in:
– the Quaternary palaeontology of South Africa focusing on the primate and bovid fossil record
– geochronology and geoarchaeology of archaeological and fossil bearing cave sites
Funding for research in these areas maybe available in 2015 with up to 5 scholarships associated with the research at Drimolen and associated sites.
Field school students will be expected to cover the cost of their flight, plus living cost expenses (dependent on numbers). For information about attending the field school in 2018 please e-mail: email@example.com