I will be flying to South Africa on Friday to take (an exceedingly small) part in a unique excavation just getting started in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, the “Rising Star Expedition”. The name refers to a new cave site, where a recovery excavation project is just starting under the direction of Lee Berger. The University of the Witwatersrand has a story about the expedition: “Rising Star Expedition launched”.
The key challenge is that the new site is in the cave structure of the Cradle and is about 30 metres underground, with a very small opening through which only persons with a bust size of 18cm and less can fit.
This compelled Berger to call on his community of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn friends to help him find tiny and small, specialised cavers and spelunkers with excellent archaeological, palaeontological and excavation skills.
Within days Berger had a list of 57 qualified candidates, of which six scientists were selected to participate in the excavation, all of them women.
Obviously my bust size doesn’t qualify, and compared to the select group going inside the cave, my role is pretty minor! I will be hoping to update from the field, and as the project goes forward I anticipate some really interesting news.