Notes on the Lothagam Pillar Site

Google Earth view of Lothagam.


  The Lothagam Pillar Site is situated on a wave-cut terrace in the valley between Lothagam's twin ridges, near the base of the western ridge, approximately where the red dot appears in this Google Earth image.

  At the time of the site's creation, Lake Turkana was higher and Lothagam was most likely a peninsula. Thus, the site commanded views out over open water to the east and north.

  As at Jarigole, the cemetery was constructed on a recessional beach whose gravel was used in making the platforms that cover the graves. At Lothagam, however, the beach includes much larger and better-rounded cobbles than the beach in the comparable geomorphic position at Jarigole. This may imply prevailing winds from the east or northeast.



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Sketch map of the Lothagam Pillar Site


  There are four main architectural elements: (a) a large collared platform with pillars, (b) ten low platforms with curbs, (c) two high platforms faced with sandstone slabs, and (d) four cairns.

  The eastern 30 meters of the site rests on an exposed wedge of well-consolidated sandstone, while the western 60 meters rests on a gravel beach, which covers the western margin of the sandstone deposit.

  The high, slab-sided platforms rest on the sandstone and may have been built up to provide sufficient fill to facilitate burial. All the other structures rest on the beach and use its gravel and cobbles in their construction.

  The scale of the map does not permit individual pillars in the pillar clusters to be be marked. Instead, the dots indicate the extent of each cluster. See the commentary on the collared platform for photographs showing the location and exact number of pillars in these clusters.

  Subsurface material, including human bone and ceramics, is being exposed and washed away in the northern erosion area. This site needs to be salvaged soon, or heavy rains could quickly destroy its most prominent feature.







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© 2008 by Charles M. Nelson
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