Anthropologists sound off on ancient footprints found at Mountain of God

The anthropological team that uncovered dawn of man footprints in Tanzania is giving insight into the find.
By Cliff Mooneyham | Nov 03, 2016
The anthropological team that uncovered dawn of man footprints in Tanzania is giving insight into the find.

The grouping of ancient footprints is one of the largest in the world and is undoubtedly the largest amassing of ancient footprints in Africa. Cynthia Liutkus Pierce led the team that excavated the footprints. They are being called the Engare Sero footprints.

"[The ancient footprints will] give us a sense of the group size and structure of these ancient hunter-gatherers," said paleoanthropologist at the National Museum of Natural History, Briana Pobiner, a member of the Liutkus Pierce excavation team. "What's the composition of this group? How many males, how many females and kids, and how many directions are they going? Are they running? Are they walking? Are they walking side by side?"

Much of the knowledge that we have of ancient communities and social dynamics is constructed from their remains. Anthropologists use various ancient tools, animal bones from garbage pits, and exhumed skeletons in order to piece together the puzzle of ancient civilizations.

What is so remarkable about the Engare Sero footprints is they could possibly tells us who, specifically, lived in this area, where they were going, and how they interacted with one another.

"For people who work in prehistory, it's incredibly rare to get that kind of snapshot in time," continued Pobiner.

"Knowingthat somebody was walking through thisexactspot, at this moment in time, thousands of years ago," said Kevin Hatala, aco-author on the study, "it does provoke lots of questions about what were these people doing there, who were they with?"

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