Paleoanthropology and Geology in Tanzania
course materials

A field course manual, textbooks, handouts and other relevant reading material will be provided throughout the course. Students will be expected to read assigned chapters and topics in the manual and textbook so they can best benefit from field instructions, lectures, discussions, exercises and field journals.

required readings

Major reading material (all provided):

  1. Course Field Manual
  2. Stephen Marshak, 3rd or 4th ed., Essentials of Geology. W.W. Norton.
  3. Clark Larsen, 3rd ed., Essentials of Physical Anthropology. W.W. Norton

Archaeology and Hominins

  1. Leakey, M. D. 1971.Olduvai Gorge: Excavations in Bed I and Bed II, 1960-1963. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  2. Potts, R. 1988. Early hominid activities at Olduvai. New Brunswick, Aldine Transaction.
  3. Leakey L.S.B. 1965. Olduvai Gorge 1951-1961. Vol. 1. A preliminary report on the geology and fauna. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


  1. Hay, R.L. 1976. Geology of the Olduvai Gorge. Berkeley: Univ. California Press.
  2. Dawson, J.B. 2008. The Gregory Rift Valley and Neogene-Recent Volcanoes of Northern Tanzania. Geological Society, London Memoirs. Vol. 33.
  3. Compton, R.R. 1962. Manual of Field Geology.

Lithic analysis

  1. Toth, N. and Schick, K. 2009. The importance of actualistic studies in Early Stone Age Research. In The Cutting Edge. K. Schick and N. Toth, Eds. (Stone Age Institute Press). Pp. 267-344.
  2. Inizan, M. et al. 1999. Technology and Terminology of Knapped Stones. CREP.

Faunal analysis and taphonomy

  1. Walker, R. 1985. A guide to post-cranial bones of East African animals. Hylochoerus Press.
  2. White, T.D. and Folkens, P.A. 2005. The human bone manual. Academic Press.
  3. Blumenschine, R. et al. 1996. Blind tests of inter-analyst correspondence and accuracy in the identification of cut marks, percussion marks, and carnivore tooth marks on bone surfaces. J. Archaeological Science 23:493-507.
  4. Njau, J.K. 2012. Crocodile predation and hominin evolution: Landcscape paleoanthropology at Olduvai Gorge. Saarbrucken: Lambert Academic Publishing GmbH and Co. KG.
field sites

General topics and special field sites

The northern Tanzania volcanic province is renowned for its tectonic activity, paleoanthropological and paleoenvironmental information it preserves. It consists of a series of extinct volcanoes (e.g., Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Meru, the Ngorongoro volcanic highlands) and the famous Ol Doinyo Lengai, perhaps the only active carbonatite-rich volcano on the earth. These volcanoes range in age from the Pliocene to recent time and are responsible for the development of most paleoanthropological and archaeological sites in the region including the evolution of Serengeti grass plains. Some topics will be instructed on a particular locality depending on the nature of evidence yielded by a particular site.

  1. Olduvai Gorge: e.g., Pleistocene vertebrate fossils, human paleontology, stratigraphy, Early Stone Age archaeology, determining the source of raw material for making stone tools.
  2. Laetoli: e.g., Pliocene hominid footprint site and Plio-Pleistocene fauna community.
  3. Natron and Manyara rift escarpments and rift lakes: e.g., sedimentology, faults, sedimentary structures, stratigraphy, geological formations.
  4. Ol Doinyo Lengai, Ngorongoro Crater: e.g., volcanism, seismicity.
  5. Serengeti: e.g., continental margin, the Neogene – Precambrian Tanganyika Shield boundary.
  6. Serengeti: e.g., the boundary between Neogene earth and Precambrian Tanganyika Shield.
  7. Lakes Masek and Ndutu in Serengeti: e.g., vertebrate taphonomy and archaeology


contact information

dr. jackson njau | dr. jim brophy
department of earth and atmospheric sciences
indiana university
1001 e. 10th st. bloomington in 47405

phone: 812-856-3170 | 812-855-6417

email: |