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Adventures in the Bone Tradeby Jon E. Kalb
Synopses & Reviews
Over the past 25 years, a stream of fossil and artifact discoveries in the Afar Depression of Ethiopia has produced the longest single record of human ancestors in the world. Many of the fossils found in this region are the missing links leading to modern humans. This book chronicles the exploration of this unique desert area, focusing especially on the 1970s when the valley was mapped and many fossils and archeological sites were discovered. The author gives his personal account of the 25 years he spent researching the region.As co-founder of the team that discovered Lucy, Jon Kalb has first-hand knowledge of the research that was involved in the findings of this region and of the intense rivalry that has accompanied those findings. He discusses the political drama of Ethiopia and the effects this chaos had on the Afar. This book covers the scientific discoveries of the area, the author's own explorations and findings, and the political struggles involved with these discoveries.
Book News Annotation:
Geologist Kalb tells of his experiences mapping Ethiopia's inhospitable Afar Depression, and describes the many astounding archaeological finds that the region yielded. He discusses the "bone wars" that arose among rival teams of archaeologists driven by money and fame, and looks at the armed conflict that wracked the region in the mid-1970s and its impact on research. The book includes b&w photos. Kalb (University of Texas-Austin) has written numerous papers on Ethiopia's Afar Depression, which he has studied for 30 years.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
This is a riveting memoir of scientific exploration amidst intrigue, famine, and war. In 1971, Jon Kalb was presented with the chance to explore Ethiopia's forbidding Afar Depression. Geology drew Kalb to the region, but astounding archeological finds became the reason to stay. The Afar yielded Lucy, the First Family, Bodo Man, the Aramis Skeleton, the Buri Skull, and some of the oldest and most extensive stone tool discoveries ever made. By the end of the decade, the area had become the source of the longest and most complete single record of hominid habitation in the world. But the Afar was also the site of the "bone wars" caused by cut-throat competition among rival teams of scientists driven by ego, money, and fame. And it was the site, tragically, of a very real war. In this remarkable memoir, Kalb recounts not just the turf battles of scientists but the armed conflict and subsequent revolution that steered Ethiopia toward famine, tribal warfare, invasion, and chaos.
As co-founder of the expedition that discovered Lucy, and leader of most of the first site-surveys in the Afar Depression in Ethiopia, Jon Kalb has years of experience with the region, its politics, and the scientists involved in the excavations. A participant himself in the "bone wars" that accompanied these discoveries, Kalb recounts the cutthroat competition and back stabbing that were often part of the media-highlighted race to find the oldest hominid fossil. He weaves this story in the rich fabric of Ethiopian society and politics, the plight of the regions peoples, and the international maneuverings for control of the fossil finds.
Table of Contents
Part I: geological formation of the Afar, earth sciences revolution and its focus on the Afar, the authors interest in the region.- Part II: the author's first trip to the Afar, geographical setting and formation of team to explore, further explorations and Lucy.- Part III: early geologists exploration, first rivalries, famine, and life of the Afar nomads.- Part IV: political upheaval, treasure map to fossils, further political upheaval and effect on research, discovery of Bodo Skull.- Part V: Somali invasion, conflicts between research and politics, colonization of Ethiopia.- Epilogue: recent discoveries, return to Ethiopia, the next generation of explorers.
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History and Social Science » Archaeology » Africa