Coinciding with this year's excavation campaign, a collaboration has been initiated with the Afar local population of Engel Ela to guarantee the consumption of drinking water
IPHES / DICYT The annual excavation campaign in the Engel Ela-Ramud basin in Eritrea, recently completed, has provided fossil remains close to 1.5 million years. In the framework of the geological, paleontological and archaeological investigations carried out in this place, new dating methodologies based on the ESR (Electronic Magnetic Resonance) technique have been applied and progress has been made in the geological cartography of said basin. In addition, a collaboration plan has been initiated for the realization of wells and water potabilization that improves the quality of life of the Afar local population.
This campaign has been developed by an Eritrean-Spanish team led by Bienvenido Martínez-Navarro, ICREA research professor (Catalan Institute of Research and Advanced Studies); Eudald Carbonell, Professor of Prehistory at the Rovira i Virgili University (URV) and Tsegai Medin, researcher at the Eritrea Commission of Culture and Sports (ECCS) and postdoctoral fellow of the Atapuerca Foundation, all of them attached to the IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Social Evolution). They have focused on a prospection and excavation that has provided important scientific results and in which other specialists linked to the National Center for Research in Human Evolution-CENIEH (Burgos), the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), have also participated.
They have had a special impact on geological and geochronological works. Thus, Prof. Oriol Oms (UAB) has carried out a general revision at stratigraphic, sedimentological and tectonic level, and is finalizing a detailed cartography of the entire basin. On the other hand, Dr. Davinia Moreno, a researcher at CENIEH and an outstanding specialist in ESR methodology, has taken samples to obtain dates from the main archeopaleontological sites located up to now in Engel Ela-Ramud (Ado Quauleh, Bolali, Sasaktoli, Gameré, Luba Gadhi and Herau IV).
On the other hand, work has been promoted to improve knowledge of the fossil and paleoanthropological record of the basin. On this occasion, prospection has continued in the Delahaitu sector, and especially efforts have been concentrated in the Ramud sector, finding new outcrops with fauna and lithic industry of the Acheulean type in situ. Specifically, important remains have been identified on the surface and, very important, three new outcrops with the presence of fauna and associated in situ artefacts, corresponding to the new Luba Gadhi I, II and III deposits.
In Luba Gadhi I have been extracted remains of turtle shells in situ, performing a small excavation of 12 square meters, and in their environment have been numerous lithic pieces and remains of bone nuclei (horns) corresponding to six different individuals of a buffalo giant similar to the Buia bull ( Bos buiaensis ) or its famous ancestor, the Olduvai buffalo (Pelorovis oldowayensis ).
In Luba Gadhi II-Gallardo 8 m2 were partially excavated, discovering 3 fertile levels, being especially rich in paleontological and archaeological records the most inferior, where an important accumulation of fauna of large vertebrates and Acheulian lithic industry in large format was located in situ . Likewise, an important abundance of fossil remains was found on the surface, corresponding to hippopotamus ( Hippopotamus cf. gorgops ), two species of pigs ( Metridichoerus modestus and Kolpochoerus majus ), antelopes, monkeys, crocodiles and turtles.
Finally, in Luba Gadhi III there is a register of elephants ( Elephas recki ssp .), In addition to other fossils and lithic industry in large format, very similar to the other two sites.
In general, it can be said that the entire archeopaleontological record of Luba Gadhi corresponds to an early Acheulean period, in chronologies between 1.5 and 1.0 million years old.
Also, in this campaign a very significant collaboration has been executed with the local Afar population of Engel Ela. Thanks to the work of two cooperators, the hydrogeologist Pedro Verzier, of Talantia start up technology, specialized in environmental and water issues with a strong social commitment since its foundation, and the expert in water purification José Manuel Vílchez, has started a project for the construction of wells protected and with sufficient flow that will be built in the coming years, and also has been experimented with filters and solar cookers to purify and boil the water, especially at first for the children, suffering from gastroenteritis , dysentery and other diseases related to the ingestion of contaminated water.
All these works are authorized by the Eritrean Commission of Culture and Sports, and are funded by the Palarq Foundation through the project "Cradle of humanity: Eritrea-Rift Valley", managed by the Atapuerca Foundation. The project also has the logistical support of the National Museum of Eritrea.