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olduvai gorge summer field school
geology and paleoanthropology

DATES: MAY 18–JUNE 24, 2016.

This program offers exciting six-week study abroad experience in Tanzania at the world’s most famous archaeological site. During this intensive field course students will learn fundamentals of geological processes and develop skills in fossil and archaeological exploration by receiving first-hand field experience. The course will emphasize field observations, data recording and interpretation with the goal of understanding physical and biological processes of site formation and human evolution. Students will have the opportunity to conduct field experiments such as measuring stratigraphic sections, stone knapping and bone taphonomy. Students will work closely with the instructors and prominent scientists currently doing research at the Olduvai site to develop and carry out independent research projects.

The program includes two multiple-day field trips and two single-day field trips to spectacular geological and archaeological destinations that serve the dual purpose of providing important instruction in localities near Olduvai Gorge. This includes excursions to Ol Doinyo Lengai (one of the most famous volcano in the world), Ngorongoro Crater and Embagai Craters. Students will study the impressive fault escarpment that marks the western boundary of the East Africa Rift Zone as well as understand the implication of the continental rifting and associated volcanism to evolution of early humans in East Africa. Students will visit nearby paleoathropological sites at Laetoli (3.5 million years old hominin footprint site) and Peninj that provide an important contrast to those studied in the Olduvai sites.

Field instruction will also take students to Serengeti National Park where its diverse savanna ecosystem provides important modern analogs for understanding the Plio-Pleistocene evolution of African vertebrates (including hominins) as well as evolution of grass plains. Serengeti and Ngorongoro are world famous Safari destinations and students will have the opportunity to experience this lifetime ecological and educational safari.


This is a six-week, 6 cr. course listed as GEOL-G349 (Field Geo-Paleoanthropology) and is administered by Indiana University. Students will receive a grade from Indiana University after completion of the course. Please contact Dr. Jackson Njau or Dr. Jim Brophy for details and course information. The application form is available via this link.


Students with a 3.0 GPA or higher will be eligible to participate and are required to have taken at least one introductory course in geology, anthropology, archaeology and related fields in paleoanthropology such as evolution, ecology etc. IU and non-IU students are eligible to apply.

Indiana University, as an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, complies with applicable federal and state laws prohibiting discrimination, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It is the policy of Indiana University that no person, on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, national origin or ancestry, age, marital status, handicap, or Vietnam Era Veteran status, shall be discriminated against in employment, educational programs and activities, or admissions. Inquiries or complaints may be addressed to the Campus Affirmative Action Office, Bryan Hall, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405 (812) 855-4859.

images from Olduvai Gorge