Arusha — Construction of the largest museum of human history, fossil remains and archaeological discoveries is in its final stages of completion.
Located in the wilderness, the facility planned to be the largest museum of its kind in both the country and entire East African region will open shop early next year.
Funded by the European Union (EU), the museum is being erected at the remote Olduvai Gorge site within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) and covers both the Olduvai (Oldupai) and the Laetoli archaeological sites, where it is believed that the first human being lived millions of years ago.
"It is going to be the largest historical museum in East Africa and the first to be constructed right at the site of pre-historic archaeological discoveries," explained the Assistant Conservator at Olduvai Gorge, Mr Orgoo Mauyai.
He explained further that the facility comprises of five large buildings to house the museum, historical data, laboratories, a restaurant and visitors' hall. The museum overlooks the legendary gorge which is believed to have been a lake, many years ago.
It stands adjacent to the stony road which links to Loliondo. Nearby, there is the astounding mound of a sandy hill, which has been moving in one direction for the last 1,000 years or so.
A recent visit to the site has revealed serious workmen working around the clock to put final touches to the oval shaped structures being built from pure stones, to preserve the natural setting of the site.
The authority recently took over the running of Oldupai Gorge, the archaeological and excavation site where Dr Mary Leakey and her husband, Louis, once worked.
Manager In-Charge of the Cultural Heritage Department at Olduvai Gorge, Engineer Joshua Mwankunde, said the establishment of Dr Leakey's Museum will go hand-in-hand with the construction of a new building to house the archaeological findings, artefacts as well as replicas at the current Oldupai site Museum, a project funded by the EU.
In sync with that, Tanzania is also negotiating with Kenya over the possibilities for the neighbouring country to either sell or donate to Tanzania, all artefacts, souvenirs, tools and personal belongings of the legendary scientist, Dr (Mary) Leakey.
The old Oldupai Ravine Site Museum has been disintegrating after the departure of Mary, who retired in 1984 before moving to Nairobi where she died twenty years ago on December 9, 1996, ironically the 35th anniversary of Tanganyika's independence.Mary,, who was born in 1913, was a British paleoanthropologist who discovered the first fossilised Proconsul skull, an extinct ape now believed to be among the human ancestors.
She also discovered the robust Zinjanthropus skull at Oldupai (Olduvai) Gorge. For much of her career, spanning more than 50 years in Tanzania; she worked alongside her husband Louis at the archaeological site located within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, where they uncovered the tools and fossils of ancient hominines.
She developed a system for classifying the stone tools found at Olduvai and was the one who discovered the Laetoli footprints. It was at the other Laetoli site, where she again discovered Hominid fossils that were more than 4 million years old. During her 50 years' career in Arusha, Dr Leakey discovered 15 new species of other animals and one new genus.
After the death of her husband in 1972, Mary Leakey became Director of Excavation at the Olduvai Gorge. The site was then under the Antiquities Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.
She helped to establish a Leakey family tradition of palaeoanthropology by training her son on the field. The Leakeys moved to work in Tanzania in 1931, after Dr Louis Leakey found some Olduvai fossils in Berlin, Germany, deciding then that Olduvai Gorge must be holding crucial information on human origins.
Posted on : 12 Dec,2016