The Drimolen archaeological site in South Africa - Drimolen

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The Drimolen archaeological site in South Africa

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The archaeological site of Drimolen

The site of Drimolen is one of the archaeological sites in the 'Cradle of Humankind', about 40 km from Johannesburg. It is located in the 'Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve' and the site was discovered by the geologist André Keyser in 1992. Of all the paleontological sites of South Africa, Drimolen is certainly the richest of all in terms of fossil remains of hominids, the ancestors of the human lineage. Over a hundred of hominid fossils were discovered so far. The paleontological and archaeological remains come from the sediments accumulated in caves over millions of years which underwent the proccess of fossilization. The deposits consist of breccias within which many fossilized remains of extinct vertebrates were found. Over time, erosion has led to the removal of carbonate rocks forming the walls of the cave and the
fossil deposits were exposed. The excavations conducted to date allowed us to bring to light a very rich fauna, consisting of carnivores, antelopes of various size, insectivores and also various primates, including two species of fossil hominids (Homo and Paranthropus). The fauna remains allowed us to estimate the age of geological deposits between 1.5 and 2 million years ago. The study of the site showed the presence of two types pf deposit areas, more or less contemporaneous: one area consists of highly calcified breccias, the other area instead underwent the processes of descaling. This second type of deposit is therefore of a consistency that it can be excavated with conventional methods. The excavation at Drimolen follows standard archaeological methods. In the decalcified deposit the excavation is carried out in quadrants of 1 m x 1 m of 10 cm depth. The material in the calcified breccia deposit are removed in blocks of variable size. The three-dimensional position of each block is registered by means of a theodolite. This allows the reconstruction of the position of each fossil within the deposit. The fossils are removed from the rocky matrix with the help of small drills.


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