In response to the letter in Tanzanian Affairs in May 1995 concerning the preservation of the 3.6 million years old Laetoli footprints, the Getty Conservation Institute in California wrote to me on 15/9/95 as follows: ‘Considerable thought has been given to the matter of reburying the footprints. Both the Antiquities Unit of Tanzania and the Getty Conservation Institute support the opinion that leaving the trackway open for visitation is impossible in the present situation. This is due to logistical difficulties and restricted accessibility as well as the limited financial capability of the Antiquities Unit. We consider reburial the most viable long-term preservation measure for the trackway, and have designed it to be easily reversible should the decision be taken one day to present the site to the public.
The possibility of removing the 30 meter long track and displaying it in the National Museum in Dar es Salaam was also considered but there were serious practical objections. It would also be against the conservation ethic which seeks to preserve sites in their original context. The prints were impressed in volcanic ash from the Sadiman volcano, 20kms away. They were buried under 30 metres of ash until, in the course of time, they became briefly exposed and were discovered by Mary Leakey in 1978. It is intriguing to speculate what our ancestors (a man, woman and child possibly) were doing as they walked in a hurry through the raining ash’. I am reassured that the Getty Conservation Institute and the Tanzanian Government have made the right decision for the time being.
PROOF READER NEEDED
I have received recently the latest issue of ‘Tanzanian Affairs’. Included in the obituary notices is one referring to my late husband, Robert Paterson, in which his Tanzanian service is listed as being from 1974-60 (sic). Perhaps you need a proof reader! The surname Paterson is incorrectly spelt, and has one ‘T’ only. His term of service extended from 1947 to 1962. It included periods as DC Biharamulo, DC Ukerewe (during which time, if I remember rightly, you yourself served in Musoma), and included two terms at the Secretariat as well as being DC Kisarawe in between these two terms. I feel sure that you will wish to correct your notice at some future date.
(Mrs) C.O. Paterson
(I was very sorry to learn of your husband’s death, and apologise for the errors to which you draw my attention. You are correct in saying that I need a proof reader. A volunteer would be more than welcome – Editor).