McCoy, Jack T., Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid research on 'Ecological & Behavioral Implications of New Archaeological Occurrences from Koobi Fora, Kenya,' supervised by Dr. John W.K. Harris
JACK T. MCCOY, then a student at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, was awarded a grant in December 2005 to aid research on 'Ecological and Behavioral Implications of New Archaeological Occurrences from Koobi Fora, Kenya,' supervised by Dr. John W.K. Harris. Decades of investigations in Upper Burgi Member exposures (2.2 to 1.9 Ma) by many prominent paleoanthropologists have produced more than three dozen hominin body fossils but virtually no stone tools or other evidence of behavior has been reported. These exposed sediments preserve an archive of fossils that can reveal a great deal about the ecology, environment, and changing foraging behaviors of the earliest members of the genus Homo. Through the collection and analysis of the fossils of terrestrial vertebrates, it is possible to reconstruct ancient animal communities and offer hypotheses about the changing ecological niche that early human ancestors occupied. The addition of significant quantities of meat and marrow into the diet of early hominins is also visible in the fossil record. Cut marks and percussion marks are preserved on fossil bones and this evidence of hominin presence and behavior was collected during this field research along with the oldest stone tools yet discovered at Koobi Fora. This research makes it possible to construct testable hypotheses about hominin habitat and changing foraging behaviors at this critical juncture in human evolution.
Negash, Dr. Agazi, Max Planck Institute, Leipzig, Germany - To aid research on 'Early Long Distance Raw Material Transport of Obsidian in Ethiopian Prehistory'
DR. AGAZI NEGASH, Max Planck Institute, Leipzig, Germany, was awarded a grant in November 2005 to aid research on 'Early Long Distance Raw Material Transport of Obsidian in Ethiopian Prehistory.' Researchers undertook fieldwork to investigate the early utilization of obsidian in Ethiopian prehistory with particular reference to the archaeological sites and geological sources in the Rift Valley. Among others, the objective of the fieldwork was to understand what is considered to be one of the key aspects of the beginnings of modern human behavior -- long distance movement or transport of raw material -- by instrumentally characterizing obsidian artifacts from the central Rift MSA sites whose artifacts are stored at the National Museum of Ethiopia and the geological sources where the raw material for these sites are supposed to have been obtained. Research focused on obsidian because it is an ideal raw material for tracing its movement from sources to archaeological sites due to, with few exceptions, its specific chemical composition with every eruption. More than 600 samples have now been characterized, of which 170 of them are artifacts from archaeological sites. Preliminary data analysis suggests that some of the sites contain obsidian artifacts whose geologic origin is hundreds of kilometers away, suggesting that they have significance to the understanding of the emergence of modern behavior.
Assefa, Dr. Zelalem, Smithsonian Inst., WDC; Pleurdeau, Dr. David, Institut de Paleontologie Humaine, Paris, France - To aid research on
'Archaeological Investigations of the Middle/Later Stone Age Occupation at Goda-Buticha, Southeastern Ethiopia'
DR. ZELALEM ASSEFA, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, and DR. DAVID PLEURDEAU, Institut de Paleontologie Humaine, Paris, France, were awarded an International Collaborative Research Grant in November 2010, to aid collaborative research on 'Archaeological Investiations of the Middle/Later Stone Age Occupation at Goda-Buticha, Southeastern Ethiopia.' This ICRG-funded project was the systematic excavation of Goda Buticha, a cave site in southeastern Ethiopia discovered during an archaeological survey in 2007. A test excavation conducted in 2008 at this site revealed well-stratified deposits containing a diversity of Later Stone Age (LSA) and Middle Stone Age (MSA) material. A series of AMS and U-Th dates obtained in 2008 from charcoal and speleothem samples, respectively, provided dates ranging from mid-Holocene to 46 ka, but also indicated some complexities in the sedimentary and cultural sequence. The 2011 excavation at Goda Buticha clarified the sedimentary sequence and recovered a rich collection of archaeological materials using controlled excavation methods. Many LSA and MSA artifacts and faunal remains were recovered. Additional ostrich eggshell beads and isolated human skeletal remains were also found in the MSA levels. Sedimentological samples were collected for OSL dating and micro-morphological analysis. While thorough assessment of the significance of the site rests with the archaeological analysis and the chronometric dating that are in progress, the 2011 excavation has demonstrated the potential of Goda Buticha to provide insight into the late Middle Stone Age and later prehistory of the region.
Sealy, Dr. Judith Clare, U. of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa - To aid conference of Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA), 2008, U. Cape Town
'2008 Conference of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists'
March 24-28, 2008, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Organizer: Judith C. Sealy (University of Cape Town)
Of the 174 participants registered for the meetings, most came from South Africa but there was also a strong contingent from other Southern African countries. Sixteen delegates from Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe were fully funded by Wenner-Gren. Members of this group gave papers on a variety of topics including rock art, the emergence of food production, archaeometallurgy, museum practice, cultural resource management, and much else. Their presence made a very substantial difference to the meeting, transforming it into a much more southern African gathering, and bringing important perspectives to discussions on a wide range of issues. It is hoped that the regional nature of this association will be strengthened at the next conference in Maputo, Mozambique, in 2011.
Thiaw, Dr. Ibrahima, U. of Dakar, Dakar, Senegal - To aid joint conference of PAA/SAfA on 'Preserving African Cultural Heritage,' 2010, U. Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, in collaboration with Dr. Ndeye Sokhna Gueye
Preliminary abstract: The Pan African Archaeological Association (PAA) and Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA) are the most important international platforms in the field of African archaeology. This joint meeting is unprecedented in the history of the two organizations and this is the first time SAfA will formally meet on African soil. It seeks to bring together Africanist scholars from around the world to promote research and encourage cooperation between all professionals in the field. It will gather c. 300 participants from around the world in Dakar, Senegal between November 1-7, 2010. The Congress will be structured around an overarching theme, 'The Preservation of African Cultural Heritage.' The meeting will also be a unique moment to recast and consolidate the role and place of the PAA and SAfA in the definition of a new humanism. We will look back at 50 years of archaeological practice in independent Africa but also will reflect on the prospects of African archaeology in the 21st century. More than ever, archaeologists and heritage managers who work on the continent are being asked to define the social and economic benefits of their work to the wider populace and to conduct their research so as to produce 'useable' pasts.
Janzen, Anneke, U. of California, Santa Cruz, CA - To aid research on 'Mobility and Herd Management among Early Pastoralists in East Africa,' supervised by Dr. Diane Gifford-Gonzalez
Preliminary abstract: African pastoralism is unique in that it developed earlier than farming, and spread throughout the continent, appearing in East Africa around 3000 years ago and continuing to adapt to changes in the social and ecological landscape until the present. The proposed project examines mobility and herd management strategies of early pastoralists in East Africa. Stable isotope analysis of carbon, oxygen, and strontium, will provide detailed information about seasonal movements across the landscape as well as livestock exchange. Herd demographic profiles will also lend insight into the economic strategies employed by herders. This collections-based project will include nine archaeological sites, representing both fully pastoral and mixed economies. Pastoralism was not adopted uniformly across East Africa, and foraging populations coexisted with herders over the last three millennia. Sites with both domestic and wild animals hint at interactions between food producers and foragers, and this project aims to examine those social interactions in more detail.
McDonald, Dr. Mary Margaret Ann, U. of Calgary, Calgary, Canada - To aid research on 'The Late Pleistocene Khargan Settlement at Bulaq, Kharga Oasis, Egypt, and Implications for Environmental Change'
Preliminary Abstract: With colleagues of the Kharga Oasis Prehistory Project (KOPP), I propose to excavate the Khargan Unit settlement located high on the escarpment face at Naqb Bulaq, Kharga Oasis, Egypt, and to investigate the contexts of this unprecedented degree of Late Pleistocene sedentism. Orginally discovered by Gardner and Caton-Thompson in 1932, test excavations were conducted in several slab structures by Gardner's assistants in 1933 at 'Site J' (KOPP#, BQ-008). Despite the acknowledged association of Khargan Unit lithics both within and outside structures, the localiity was published as 'Stone outlines of unknown age and purpose.' In 2011 three KOPP members relocated the 7 slab structures reported, discovered the published plan to be erroneous, and that there are at least 12 slab structures within a radius of ~50 m. All associations are, as reported, Khargan Unit. Single Khargan structures have been found previously, including by KOPP in 2008 at Gebel Yebsa Area, but associated 'hut settlements' have, to date, only been found in Holocene contexts. While the Khargan Complex still lacks chronometric dating, typological seriation, and the settings and conditions of artefacts, indicate a later Late Pleistocene age. Understanding this rather 'peculiar' lithic aggregate and the settlement requires a detailed resurvey of the Bulaq escarpment in order to reassess the puzzling distribution of Aterian Complex versus Khargan Complex aggregates by elevation reported by Caton-Thompson: only Aterian at lower levels; mixed components higher up; and only Khargan at the highest elevations. If verified, this distribuition requires explanation: one KOPP hypothesis has been that Khargan aggregates represent the same population as do the earlier Aterian aggregates--a population having to adjust to deteriorating environmental conditions, but there are possible alternative explanations.