John Bower and Audax Mabulla share a relaxed moment at the Loiyangalani archaeological site. Courtesy photo

UC Davis

Presidio exhibit features UCD archaeologist’s work

Check it out

What: “Crown Jewels: Five Great National Parks Around the World and the Challenges They Face,” featuring research by Davis resident John R.F. Bower and photographs by Davis photographers Robert W. Floerke, Susan Hoffman and Jan Bower

When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays through Aug. 17

Where: The Presidio Trust, 103 Montgomery St., on the Main Post in the Presidio in San Francisco

Info: www.presidio.gov/crownjewels

A photographic poster exhibit opened at the Presidio Trust in San Francisco in February and continues through Aug. 17. The exhibit is titled “Crown Jewels: Five Great National Parks Around the World and the Challenges They Face.”

The project, which was conceived by Presidio historian Randolph Delehanty, carries a strong message about the importance of preserving the world’s national parks, and highlights some of the problems that are affecting their destruction and the progress being made to rectify this situation. The exhibit will tour museums and other venues in various locations around the world upon closure at the Presidio.

One of the five parks featured in the exhibit is the Serengeti National Park and the adjoining Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania. This profile was written by John R.F. Bower, professor emeritus in anthropology at Iowa State University and research associate in the evolutionary wing of the anthropology department at UC Davis.

It includes his long-term archaeological work in the Serengeti with his co-principal investigator, Audax Z.P. Mabulla of the archaeology unit at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Photographs by Davis photographers Robert W. Floerke, Susan Hoffman and Jan Bower also are featured in the exhibit.

John Bower’s research in the Serengeti began in 1971 when he was a research fellow at the British Institute of History and Archaeology (now the British Institute in East Africa) in Nairobi, Kenya. The Serengeti Game Lodge was being built, and he was asked to recover the archaeological material at the site before it was destroyed.

This experience led him to survey other parts of the Serengeti Park and to conduct several seasons of excavation centered on the kopjes in the park, where human habitation was thought to exist. In 1985, he discovered the Loiyangalani site, a Middle Stone Age site dated to about 65,000 years ago, where his research still continues.

The Serengeti Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area was selected as one of the five featured parks because of the destruction by wildlife, Masan pastoralists and tourism to the archaeological material in excavated and potential sites that document human prehistory in the park.

The other national parks featured in the Presidio exhibit, and in a book published by the American Alliance of Museums, are the Chang Tang Nature Reserve in China; National Archaeological Parks of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae, Boscoreale and Oplontis in Italy; the Alto Orinoco-Casiquiare Biosphere Reserve in Venezuela and Yanomami Territory in Brazil; and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in Australia.

Bower also conducted a published 10-year comparative study of prehistoric foragers in Europe and North America with Michal Kobusiewicz of the Polish Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology. Extensive field work in the Rift Valley and Salasun and Lukenya Hill in Kenya, Koster site in the Lower Illinois Valley, Pinar del Rio Province in Cuba, Nabta Playa in Egypt and Sudan, and underwater archaeology at Caesarea Maritima on the coast of Israel round out Bower’s 40-year archaeological career.

The Presidio Trust is at 103 Montgomery St., on the Main Post in the Presidio. The exhibit is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Find more information at www.presidio.gov/crownjewels.

Special to The Enterprise

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