The CENIEH is part of a Spanish-Eritrean project which studies archaeological sites in the Rift Valley

The geochronologist from CENIEH Davinia Moreno carries out the dating studies in the most recent excavation and prospecting campaign of the project “Cradle of humanity: Eritrea-Rift Valley”, financed by the Palarq Foundation and managed by Fundación Atapuerca

Davinia Moreno, geochronologist at the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH), has participated in the new geological, paleontological and archaeological campaign undertaken from January 10 to February 3, in the Engel Ela-Ramud basin, in the northern extreme of the Rift Valley (Eritrea), in a very complete stratigraphic series which may cover the last six million years, and includes the archaeological sites of Ado Quauleh, Bolali, Sasaktoli, Gameré, Erau and Abugadi.

One of the main objectives of the 2018 campaign, financed by the Palarq Foundation and managed by Fundación Atapuerca, is to make progress in the numerical dating of the cited stratigraphic sequence, where numerous fossils of large mammals (elephants, pigs, large bovids, hippopotamus, horses, gazelles) and other vertebrates (crocodiles and tortoises) have been found, associated to an abundant lithic industry.

As Davinia Moreno explains, the dating will be conducted, with the samples collected during this campaign, in the laboratories of the CENIEH using Electron Spin Resonance (ESR), “as this is one of the few dating methods which can cover such ancient chronologies in a sedimentary context in the absence of volcanic material, as in this zone of Eritrea”.

In the excavation and prospecting work of this campaign of the project “Cradle of humanity: Eritrea-Rift Valley”, the other participants are researchers from the National Museum of Eritrea in Asmara, and the geologist Oriol Oms, professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, responsible for the geological cartography of the region.

Cooperation Program
In addition to the geological and archaeopaleontological work carried out by the Spanish-Eritrean team directed by Bienvenido Martínez-Navarro, from ICREA (Catalonian Institute of Research and Advanced Studies), Eudald Carbonell, from Rovira y Virgili University, and Tsegai Medin, postdoctoral fellow at Fundación Atapuerca, a cooperation program has also been undertaken to improve the living conditions of the local population.

Davinia Moreno has been very involved in this program centered on the quality of the water to prevent disease, together with Pedro Verzier, hydrogeologist responsible for performing a study for sitting wells, and José Manuel Vílchez, specialist in water potabilization, responsible for the installation of water filters and solar kitchens.

The work of the geochronologist from CENIEH has consisted in conveying all this knowledge to the women in the region, so that they can learn to use the water potabilization systems and understand the benefits brought by the use of sterilized water in their daily lives.