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Wrapping Up Round Two

By Becca Peixotto

Every day at Rising Star is a busy one, but in our free time we’ve been lucky to make some local friends who follow the expedition and this blog.  Thanks for helping us feel welcome in South Africa!

Today marked the last day of excavation for this round of Rising Star. In only eight days of digging, we retrieved more than 320 numbered fossil specimens and an awful lot of sediment. Don’t worry: an untold number of fossils, some sure to be spectacular, remain in the chamber waiting to be excavated in the not too distant future.

Why didn’t we get them all? First, it would take a very long time. All of the fossils we collected this time came from a small area of the total chamber floor. Second, archaeologists often like to preserve part of a site in the ground for study later. Future advances in technology and new research questions might alter how we’d excavate so leaving some areas undisturbed actually allows us to learn more from the site and the fossils down the road.

The End of the Day
As Marina Elliot and I were taking the last photos and making the final scans, we were joined by our intrepid cave explorers and support team of Steven Tucker and Rick Hunter.

Proof that ancient hominins had computers? Nope, just a shot of the team lugging elements of this season's command center out of the cave. (Photo courtesy Becca Peixotto)
Proof that ancient hominins had computers? Nope, just a shot of the team lugging elements of this season’s command center out of the cave. (Photo courtesy Becca Peixotto)

Marina and I escorted bags of fossils, sediment, and equipment up through the famous chute with Rick hauling them on a rope from above. It’s tight in the slot with a person and a heavy bag. With a fair bit of grunting and some great cooperation, we got the bags up the chute, down Dragon’s Back, through Post Box, up the Ladder and to the surface.

Meanwhile, Steven was busy securing the cameras and lights from the harsh cave environment since they will sit there dormant for a few months. Everything else—every scrap of paper, bubble wrap and toothpick—was packed up and carried out of the cave. We didn’t say goodbye to the Rising Star cave, rather “thanks for an incredible week and see you again soon!”

Here Peter Schmid is hard at work at his desk in the cave. Swap out the background for an office, and this is pretty much how things will look for the coming weeks as well. (Photo by Ashley Kruger)
Here Peter Schmid is hard at work at his desk in the cave. Swap out the background for an office, and this is pretty much how things will look for the coming weeks as well. (Photo by Ashley Kruger)

Next, we’ll be working in the lab with Peter Schmid sifting through the sediment looking for still more fossils we may have missed. Tiny as they may be, each bone and fossil fragment provides another clue to mystery of the Rising Star fossils.

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Comments

  1. Jose L. Vasquez
    Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
    July 13, 5:11 pm

    Hi, I just like to know if there is a detail description of the cave, with a computer illustration of what it looks like?