The Olduvai Gorge (Correctly pronounced Oldupai Gorge is refered to as The Cradle of Mankind.The steep sided ravine which stretches in the eastern Serengeti Plain of northern Tanzania and about 30 miles long. The name came from the Maasai word OLDUPAI for the wild sisal plant Sansevieria robusta. The site is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world and has been used as an instrument for understanding of early human evolution. since 1950s the work which continues until now. About 500,000 years ago the story of this place is revealed.
The earliest archaeological deposit, known as Bed I, has produced evidence of campsites and living floors along with stone tools made of flakes from local basalt and quartz. Since this is the site where these kinds of tools were first discovered, these tools are called Oldowan. It is now thought that the Oldowan tool making tradition started about 2.6 million years ago. Bones from this layer are not of modern humans but primitive hominid forms of Paranthropus boisei and the first discovered specimens of Homo habilis.
The Olduvai Gorge bears the distinction of having the oldest known evidence of mammoth consumption, attributed to Homo ergaster around 1.8 million years ago.
Above this, in Bed II, pebble tools begin to be replaced by more sophisticated handaxes of the Acheulean industry and made by Homo ergaster. This layer dates to around 1.5 million years ago.
Beds III and IV have produced Acheulean tools and fossil bones with Neandertal characteristics which were used until around 600,000 years ago.
During a period of major faulting and volcanism roughly 400,000 to 600,000 years ago, the Masek Beds were made.
Beds above these contained tools from a Kenya-Capsian industry made by modern humans and are termed the Masek Beds (600,000 to 400,000 years ago), the Ndutu Beds (400,000 to 32,000 years ago), and the Naisiusiu Beds (22,000 to 15,000 years ago).
Also located on the rim of the Gorge is the Olduvai Gorge Museum. This Museum presents exhibitions pertaining to the Gorge’s history.
Olduvai is the location of the first monolith in Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey series of books.
Olduvai is also the theme of the Olduvai theory, which states that industrial civilization will have a lifetime of less than or equal to 100 years.
The variant “Oldupai” is the Maasai word for the wild Sisal plant that grows in the gorge; some claim the more common spelling “Olduvai” is the result of a mis-hearing of the word by colonial visitors. The latter spelling is not used locally.