Educational monument at Olduvai Gorge

Stone Age Institute researchers with the sculptor, Festo Kijo (on the far right),
in front of the newly-erected Olduvai Gorge monument

Educational Sculptures
Erected at Olduvai Gorge

In July of 2019 Stone Age Institute researchers Nicholas Toth, Kathy Schick, and Jackson Njau completed their project to create an educational monument at the turnoff to Olduvai Gorge from the road which connects Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Serengeti National Park. The monument project was undertaken at the invitation of the Tanzanian government in order to celebrate this important site and to attract visitors to the Gorge and its new museum. The project was funded by the Stone Age Institute and the John Templeton Foundation, in partnership with the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA).

Schick, Toth, and Njau designed and planned the monument and celebrated Tanzanian artist Festo Kijo was commissioned to create the monument which consists of two large concrete skulls which he modeled using fossil casts provided by the institute researchers. The skulls chosen for the monument are Zinjanthropus, now known as Paranthropus boisei, and Homo habilis. The two species were first discovered at Olduvai Gorge and date to about 1.84 million years ago. The large-scale models created by Kijo are each 6 feet tall and weigh 5,000 pounds. The two skulls sit atop a large pedestal designed to invite visitors to gather around while they read the educational plaques written in English and Swahili which adorn the sides of the pedestal.

The much-anticipated sculptures were transported to the monument site and installed on July 13th, and on July 22nd Tanzanian Prime Minister the Right Honourable Kassim Majaliwa graciously traveled to the site to dedicate the new monument along with the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Inmi Patterson, the Tanzanian Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism the Honourable Hamisi Kigwangalla, and the Tanzanian Minister of Information, Culture, Artists, and Sports the Honourable Harrison Mwakyembe. The dedication was a part of the celebration of the 60th Anniversary of Mary Leakey’s discovery of the Zinjanthropus skull at Olduvai Gorge in July of 1959.

The remarkable sculptures are a striking and inspiring sight along the broad plateau which sees a nearly constant flow of tourist traffic and are already attracting many more tourists to visit Olduvai Gorge and the new Museum, which is located just a ten minute drive from the monument.