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PICTURES OF THE KALOKOL NAMORATUNGA


Turkana Archaeology pages

 

1. Ground plan of the Kalokol Namoratunga as reported by Robert Soper (1982). Notice the overlapping curb in the lower left-hand corner. This may mark an entrance. The curb at the upper right appears be covered by debris, but excavation would be required to verify this.

The pillars are part of the original structure of this site, but the cairns may have been added at a later time and could mark secondary burials. On the higher ground rising south and west of the Namoratunga, there are numerous cairn burials, which are probably more recent than the Namoratunga.

 



2. Looking roughly NE at the mound within the crub that defines the surface boundary of the Namoratunga at Kalokol.

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3. The Kalakol Namoratunga as it would have appeared in 1975. Numbers are those assigned to the pillars by Lynch and Robbins (1978). Notice the partially disarticulated cairn in the lower right corner. This is marked as Cairn 2 in the plan at the top of the page.

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4. Looking roughly ESE across the mound of the Namoratunga at Kalokol. The small cairns on the right are relatively recent additions to the site.

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Credit: photo copyright © Maria Helena Barreira, 1998; from BLUEGECKO.org.

 



5. Looking roughly ENE at the central mound and pillars of the Namoratunga at Kalokol. The cairns to the left and right are recent additions to the site. The cobbles in these cairns exhibit a wide range of colors, indicating different states of weathering. In contrast, the surface of the mound between the cairns is a single color, which indicates a surface that has been stable long enough to acquire uniform weathering.

Credit: photo copyright © Maria Helena Barreira, 1998; from BLUEGECKO.org.

 



6. The pillars near the center of the mound of the Namoratunga at Kalokol. Photograph taken near sunset, with shadows pointing to the east.

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Credit: photo copyright © Maria Helena Barreira, 1998; from BLUEGECKO.org.

 



7. Pillar groupings near the top of the mound of the Namoratunga at Kalokol. Notice the white stones. The Turkana consider it particularly effective to cast a white stone on a Namoratunga. Note also the farthest pillar, which can be seen between and beyond the two largest of the pillars in this group; it appears in the photo immediately below.

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Credit: photo copyright © Maria Helena Barreira, 1998; from BLUEGECKO.org.

 



8. An exaggerated perspective of Pillar 12 with stones piled on top. Placing stones on the top of pillars is another contemporary custom of the Turkana. Some report that it is to bind the spirits that abide at Namoratunga so they will do no mischief as one passes by.

The well rounded circumference suggests that this pillar was transported in a stream or rolled in beach before it was collected and brought to Kalokol.

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Credit: photo copyright © Maria Helena Barreira, 1998; from BLUEGECKO.org.

 



9. Multiple pillar alignments as seen looking back from Pillar 4 in the Namoratunga at Kalokol. As you can see, this looks a little different on the ground then it does on the map at the top of this page.

Look along the left side of the photo. In the foreground, the pebbles are loose around the base of the pillar. In the middle-ground, they are compacted where people have been walking. In the background, you can see the small, ramp-like cairns that have been piled against the two pillars at the base of the alignments. These features show that the surface of the Namoratunga is still active - still being modified by people who visit the site.

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Credit: photo copyright © Maria Helena Barreira, 1998; from BLUEGECKO.org.

 



10. Another view of Pillar 4. The associated pillar set is immediately behind the photographer.

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Credit: photo copyright © Maria Helena Barreira, 1998; from BLUEGECKO.org.

 



11. More stones placed on pillar tops in the Namoratunga at Kalokol. These pillars began as irregular hexagonal columns of basalt. They have been rolled and some have subsequently aged enough so that chemical weathering is removing thin exfoliation rinds like that seen here at the top of the central pillar.

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Credit: photo copyright © Maria Helena Barreira, 1998; from BLUEGECKO.org.

 



12. Pillars in various states of collapse in the Namoratunga at Kalokol. Notice how the completely fallen pillar is now all but burried in a low cairn of pebbles. Note, too, Pillar No. 11 at the upper left.

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Credit: photo copyright © Maria Helena Barreira, 1998; from BLUEGECKO.org.

 



13. A decapitated pillar in the Namoratunga at Kalokol. The top of Pillar 12 is formed by a conchoidal fracture that was created when a corner of the pillar was struck with sufficient force and its top detached, probably after the pillar was in place. Multiple partial cones of percussion indicate that several blows were required to accomplish this. Therefore, it is likely that the pillar was taller at the time the Namoratunga was created.

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Credit: photo copyright © Maria Helena Barreira, 1998; from BLUEGECKO.org.

 



14. The top of this Kalokol pillar has been used as a platform from which to strike large flakes, most like to be used as tools. This probably happened long after the Namoratunga was abandoned by its makers.

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Credit: photo copyright © Maria Helena Barreira, 1998; from BLUEGECKO.org.

 



15. Notice the rectangular group of small cobbles on the surface of the Namoratunga at the bottom of this photo. The various stages and kinds of weathering show that these stones have been gathered and placed here very recently.

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Credit: photo copyright © Maria Helena Barreira, 1998; from BLUEGECKO.org.

 



16. Pillar alignments in the Namoratunga at Kalokol after Lynch and Robbins (1978).




17. Pillar alignments in the Namoratunga at Kalokol after Doyle and Wilcox (1986).

Although Lynch and Doyle differ in their measurements, they nevertheless find numerous alignments to the same group of stars through different pillar alignments. This can occur when pillars are packed closely together.     TOP   Home




18. The maps provided by Lynch, Soper and Doyel reduced to the same scale and super- imposed. The plots were aligned with one another based on the positions of pillars 16, 17 and 18 because these pillars were far apart and their positions on the three plots agreed well. This shows how much variation can occur in the measurement of components even when they are part of a simple, stable system. Since astronomical calculations require accurate lines of sight to the horizon, small differences in how they are measured can have a disproportionately large effect on their projected position at the horizon.     TOP   Home  



19. Looking S. I visited Kalakol in 1995 and took a small number of slides (film, not digital). This shot is typical of the sort of view that opens the series above and reflects the sensibilities of many archaeo-astronomers.

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20. Looking NW. In this tight view of the central mound at the site, you get a good view of the pillars and the degree to which they are leaning in different directions. You can even see the outer collar that runs just behind that bush in the foreground. You can see the road clearly.

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21. Looking NW. Stepping back, we can now see the entire site and something of its situation. The reddish-brown gravel that surrounds the central mound marks the approximate extent of the platform, which is contained by the collar of large cobbles. The light band on the left is sand and vine gravel that is washing down the hill and burying the collar on the eastern margin of the Namoratunga. The greater site, which contains the Namoratunga, extends up the low rise out of view on the left side of this image.

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22. Looking NW. Moving back to the view seen in Fig. 20, here is a closer view of the cobbles in the collar (below the vertical white lines) and Cairn 2 (extent of base marked by arrows). The locations of these features within the site can be found in Figure 1, above.

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23. Looking NW. A tight shot of the main pillar cluster. Cairn 2 is in the left foreground.

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23A. Looking W. Pillar No. 10 is in the left foreground. Pillar No. 11 is partially buried. Notice that the end nearest Pillar 10 is not exposed.

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24. Looking NW. The cobble collar on the northeast margin of the Namoratunga where it is being covered by sediment being washed down the low hill to the south and east.

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25. Looking S. West margin of the platform with a portion of Cairn1 at the left. The cairn may have been disturbed and partially scattered.

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26. Looking N. Possible pillar stubs beneath the thorn tree. The cluster at the right has been used in recent times as a hearth.

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27. Looking NNW. A stub pillar in situ with cobbles arranged on the right and two possible pillar fragments on the right. The three rocks at the back of this U-shaped arrangement appear to have soot deposits on their inward leaning faces. This appears to be a relatively recent hearth that happens to incorporate older structures on the site.

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28. Looking SE. Another fairly recent hearth constructed of much larger cobbles on the hillside to the south of the Namoratunga. Pastoral encampments from the Iron Age and historic periods do not leave much behind: hearthstones, cairns marking burials, a few potsherds and occasional simple stone tools.

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29. Looking SW. There are numerous cairns on the hill above the Namoratunga, which may or may not be related to it. Some are quite interesting. This one is more of a flattened platform about six meters across. It may once have been topped by a cairn whose stones have been removed, but it is more likely that it as a platform of large cobbles with a burial pit the upper part of which is also filled with cobbles.

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30. Looking NNW. This is the margin of the same cairn showing concentric rings of cobbles.

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31. Looking SW. Here is a somewhat larger cairn, on the crest of the hill and over seven meters in diameter, that contains a low dome of fine gravel. It is somewhat similar to structures at the Lothagam Namoratunga.

Visit Lothagam Namoratunga

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32. Looking ESE. Yet another such cairn about six meters in diameter and situated on the side of the hill opposite the Namoratunga. The acacia trees at the right are the same as those in the center of Figure 31.

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References Cited

Doyle, L.R. and T.J. Wilcox. 1986. Statistical Analysis of Namoratunga: An Archaeoastronomical Site in Sub-Saharan Africa? Azania 21:125-129.

Lynch, B. M., and L. H. Robbins. 1978. Namoratunga: The first archaeoastronomical evidence in sub-Saharan Africa. Science 200:766-68.

Soper, R. 1982. Archaeo-astronomical Cushites: Some comments. Azania 17:145-62



©2009, 2010 by Charles M. Nelson
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