Heading for a(nother) Falls

Yes, we’re on our way to the Falls. Not Victoria Falls this time but Kalambo Falls in Zambia’s Northern Province. We’ll be driving over 1000 kilometres, from Lusaka up the Great North Road all the way to its end– or nearly. We turn off for the falls just a tad short of the Tanzanian border. En route we have two overnight stops, one at a roadside establishment called Forest Inn, then a long haul up to Kasama.

This year a full time team of eleven will be making that drive, with six experts joining us later. Thanks to the great distance involved and the difficulties of direct transport, they will be enjoying (I wouldn’t but they may!) the luxury of a chartered flight. Though don’t imagine leather seats and champagne, that couldn’t be further from the reality, such planes are workhorses in vast countries like Zambia.

Kalambo Falls lies north of the town where the last surrender of World War I took place – Mbala, then called Abercorn. It is about as different from last year’s location as we could get. There are few facilities, no urban settlement, no internet or wi-fi – which makes communicating difficult.  But I will attempt to post short descriptions of our work and the day-to-day human context as and when I can.

I last worked at Kalambo in 2006 and am assured that a very great deal has changed, not least the time it takes to get to the falls from Mbala (it took us three hours in 2006). We will also be staying or camping at a lodge, where there was none before. Such a treat to have running water and flushing loos!

If you’d like a flavour of the 2006, this compilation of a series of blog posts from someone who was there is pretty accurate – and possibly a clue as to why she is not accompanying me this time!

As to the archaeology, which I am sure is what you are really interested in, we will be homing in on the Early to Middle Stone Age transition, the focus of the Deep Roots Project.  Uncertainties abound.  I can see that the Kalambo River has shifted course since 2006, cutting into our old excavations, and who knows what survives of the key sites excavated by Desmond Clark and colleagues more than 50 years ago.  We’ll find out and let you know, if and when we can.  Stay tuned.

One of the finds and its location being pointed to by Victor, seconded to our team from the National Heritage Conservation Commission, in 2006

4 thoughts on “Heading for a(nother) Falls

  1. Dear Larry, Thank you very mich for including me in this. I can hardly believe it’s 13 years since you were at Kalambo, and look forward very much to reading about your group’s coming work there. I still have photos of the falls from your posts at that time. Your comment about the plane(s?) reminds me of times when I was working as a geologist on the copperbelt, and on occasion, to go home to Malawi on holiday, instead of driving across from Lusaka, took CAA flights from Lusaka to Blantyre in old DC3s with canvas seats. Will Mary be going with you like last time? Please give her my best wishes. My best wishes to you too of course; hoping that your investigations will be successful and give exciting results. John



  2. Dear Larry, I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have the “compilation of a series of blog posts” that I seem to have forgotten to click on last time. I love it. I remember some of the photos, such as the one taken looking out over the landscape from the edge of the plateau, and the one at the edge of the falls, but a number of the others I don’t remember having seen before.

    Best wishes and good luck (when do you actually leave?).

    John ________________________________


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About Larry Barham

My name is Larry (Lawrence if I’m feeling formal) Barham and I'm a Professor of African Archaeology at the University of Liverpool, England, teaching evolutionary anthropology at undergraduate and postgraduate level.