“Gombore II-2 is important not only because of the rarity of human footprints in the archaeological record, but also because this is not just a site of passage, such as Laetoli, but an area which provides insight into daily activities,” explains Sapienza Antiquities Professor and Site Coordinator Margherita Mussi. “Moreover, this is the first time that we find the footprints of very young children and proof that they were around while the adults butchered animals and knapped stone. We also know what hominids these were, as fossil remains of Homo heidelbergensis – the common ancestor we share with the Neanderthals – were found nearby, albeit in an older archaeological stratum dating to 850,000 years ago.” The archaeological mission at Melka Kunture is coordinated by Professor Mussi and conducted together with a team of undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students from the Antiquities Department. In particular, this discovery was made by PhD student Flavio Altamura, the first author of the article that has just been published.
The study conducted on the footprints is the result of national and international scientific cooperation.
Sapienza University has been conducting research on the Melka Kunture site on the high basin of the Awash River for over fifty years.
Reference: Scientific Reports, Volume 8, Article N. 2815 (2018) - Archaeology and Ichnology at Gombore II-2, Melka Kunture, Ethiopia: Everyday Life of a Mixed-age Hominin Group 700,000 Years Ago - Flavio Altamura, Matthew R. Bennett, Kristiaan D’Août, Sabine Gaudzinski-Windheuser Rita T. Melis, Sally C. Reynolds & Margherita Mussi. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-21158-7