The Laetoli Footprint cast at the Oldupai Gorge Museum

Conservation project at site of earliest human steps backed by British Council fund

The Laetoli Footprint cast at the Oldupai Gorge Museum (Richard Bates)

A University of St. Andrews project to save Tanzania’s prehistoric footprints are among 22 to be supported by a £2m fund

A footprint in Tanzania, thought to be the oldest unequivocal evidence of human ancestors walking on two feet, is to be saved from erosion in a project backed by the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund.

Led by the University of St. Andrews, the project to save the prehistoric Laetoli footprint site will address threats through digital documentation, training and community engagement.

It is one of 22 new projects across 10 countries which will receive part of a £2m fund to tackle the effects of conflict and climate change on international cultural heritage.

Other cultural heritage sites in Syria, Iraq, Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Uganda, Tanzania and for the first time, Pakistan and Nepal will be supported by project funding.

Since 2016, the Cultural Protection Fund has given grants of over £50 million to 159 projects to protect cultural heritage in 19 countries.

Stephanie Grant, Director of the Cultural Protection Fund at the British Council said: “These projects will research, document and restore a wide range of valuable cultural heritage and bring together thousands of people to explore and celebrate their cultural identities.

“This is a crucial time for the Cultural Protection Fund as we are in the final year of our current three-year programme.”

Newly funded Cultural Protection Fund projects announced today also include documenting and preserving an endangered custom of tattooing in Iraq, and protecting South Sudanese women’s cultural heritage in refugee settings in Uganda and Kenya.

Full details of the projects funded are available on the Cultural Protection Fund website.