the foundations of the earth were laid bare,
at Your rebuke, Lord,
at the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.
- Psalm 18
At the very edge we stand,
ants on a crumb,
and look down.
The jagged rock is vertically segmented,
ledged, harsh, and brown,
marbled with marble at random
layer on layer on layer on layer
of time and greatness God cannot change
now, cannot alter in body or soul,
can only admire and fly away
in a dream of dinosaur bones.
- Stephanie McLintock
I have chosen this place because it has a unique structure. In this valley was laid down, over the last four million years, layer upon layer of volcanic ash, interbedded with broad bands of shale and mudstone. The deep deposit was formed at different times, one stratum after another, visibly separated according to age: four million years ago, three million years ago, over two million years ago, somewhat under two million years ago. And then the Rift Valley buckled it and stood it on end, so that now it makes a map in time, which we see stretching into the distance and the past. The record of time in the strata, which are usually buried underfoot, has been up-tilted in the cliffs that flank the Omo, and spread out like the ribs of a fan.
These cliffs are the strata on edge: in the foreground the bottom level, four million years old, and beyond that the next lowest, well over three million years old. The remains of a creature like man appear beyond that, and the remains of the animals that lived at the same time.
The animals are a surprise, because it turns out that they have changed so little. ...
- Jacob Bronowski, 'The Ascent of Man'