DAR ES SALAAM
(Xinhua) -- Tanzania needs about 50
million U.S. dollars to construct a modern museum for preserving
the rockbed of hominid footprints at Laetoli in Ngorongoro
district, Arusha region, an official has said.
Mwankunda, project manager for the planned museum said
feasibility studies at the Laetoli by consultants from South
Africa and Tanzania indicated that only a state-of-the-art
facility will protect the 3.7 million year old footprints
believed to belong to the pre-historic human ancestors.
The footprints’ trackway, excavated by Mary Leakey in 1976
and by Tanzanian archaeologists much recently, are impressed on
fine-grained volcanic ash and constitute some of the world’s
strongest evidence regarding the Origin of Man in the area and
major landmark in palaeanthropology, said Mwankunda.
"In the 1990s, they were buried underground at the site where
they were found in order to save them from erosion," he said.
He added: "It is a museum which can preserve the ash bed
intact and that is sure to attract researchers from across the
world to Tanzania to advance the global understanding of human
Mwankunda, who had spent the last three years coordinating
research and preservation activities at Laetoli, said actual
feasibility study on the proposed museum started in February
It was at that time that that the Ngorongoro Conservation
Area Authority (NCAA) contracted Peter Rich Architects from
South Africa and the Arusha-based GMP Consulting Engineers to
carry out technical studies of the facility, said Mwankunda.
Tanzania’s Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism,
Jumanne Maghembe, appealed to cultural heritage stakeholders in
the country and all over the world to support the financial
needs of the museum and other supporting infrastructure which,
according to him, holds the future of human origin studies in
Five years ago the government of Tanzania announced that it
will construct a museum to preserve the rockbed on which rests
the 3.7 million year old footprints at Laetoli.
Former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete made the pledge
during his visit to the site in early 2011 during which he
witnessed the excavation of the rockbed and ordered that a
museum be constructed to enable tourists and other people to see
it instead of remaining underground.
Laetoli is about 50 kilometres south west of Ngorongoro
Crater and almost 30 km from the Olduvai Gorge where the same
Leakey family made a spectacular discovery of a hominid (early
human) skull in 1959, changing the landscape of early man
studies in the world.
Tanzania unveils new
discovery of very ancient human footprints