Mosothwane, Morongwa N., U. of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa - To aid research on 'Molecular Tracing of Early Farmers Diets in Eastern Botswana,' supervised by Dr. Karim Sadr & Dr. Judith C. Sealy
MORONGWA NANCY MOSOTHWANE, then a student at University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, received funding in November 2005 to aid research on 'Molecular Tracing of Early Farmers Diets in Eastern Botswana,' supervised by Dr. Karim Sadr and Dr. Judith C. Sealy. The study was intended to identify farmers and foragers during the Early Iron Age (EIA) in Botswana through the use of stable isotope analysis. The areas were selected as they are known to have been frontiers of contact between foragers and farmers. The aim was to determine whether there were foragers buried on farmers' settlements or vise versa and to identify those individuals who had shifted from one of subsistance to the other over a long period. The human samples came from EIA settlements in the Toutswe area, Tsodilo Hills and Okavango River. Toutswe samples were derived from Kgaswe B55 (n=17), Bonwapitse (n=3), Taukome (n=5) and Thatswane (n=6), Bosutswe (n=13) and Toutswemogala (n=28) and others (n=4). At the Tsodilo Hills, two sites are Divuyu (n=1) and N!oma (n=3). Xaro (n=2), is along the Okavango River. Thus, 76 humans were selected for stable isotope analysis. Animal samples from archaeological and modern context were analysed to provide reference standards for the interpretation of human isotope values. They included domestic species like cattle, sheep/goats, and a dog as well as wild animals: zebra, hare, tortoise, and steenbok. According to results, EIA farmers in the Toutswe and the Tsodilo Hills areas relied on domestic C4 crops (sorghum and millet), which they supplemented with C3 plants. The C3 component was derived from a combination of domestic and wild plants. At N!oma the two individuals showed isotopic evidence for having been a foragers who later shifted to a farming mode of subsistence. It is possible that the Xaro individuals exploited freshwater fish from the nearby Okavango River but they were farmers.
Bernatchez, Jocelyn Anna, Arizona State U., Tempe, AZ - To aid research on 'The Role of Ochre in the Development of Modern Human Behavior: A Case Study from South Africa,' supervised by Dr. Curtis W. Marean
JOCELYN A. BERNATCHEZ, then a student at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, received a grant in October 2010 to aid research on 'The Role of Ochre in the Development of Modern Human Behavior: A Case Study from South Africa,' supervised by Dr. Curtis W. Marean. The presence of ochre in Middle Stone Age (MSA ~250-40ka) sites in southern Africa is often proposed as evidence for symbolism and early modern human behavior. However, there is significant debate about the uses of ochre in the past and whether symbolism is the most appropriate explanation for its presence in these sites. This project focused on the following research question: Within the MSA sites at Pinnacle Point, South Africa, is ochre evidence for symbolic behavior, or were more utilitarian activities involving ochre taking place? Several aspects of the record were studied to test these questions, including geological survey and sourcing attempts of archaeological samples. The acquisition of ochre is typically a highly ritualized activity for recent hunter-gatherer groups when compared to the exploitation of other non-symbolically loaded raw materials (such as stone). An exploitation pattern focusing primarily on distant sources rather than closer sources or a pattern focused on a few deposits when many are available may be suggestive of some symbolic meaning. Twenty-four ochre sources were identified. Using Particle Induced X-Ray Emission (PIXE), it was possible to identify a possible preference for the ochre at one source located approximately 19km from Pinnacle Point.
Prendergast, Dr. Mary E., St. Louis U. in Madrid, Madrid, Spain; and Mabulla, Dr. Audax, U .of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania - To aid collaborative research on 'Archaeological Investigation of a 'Moving Frontier' of Early Herding in Northern Tanzania'
DR. MARY PRENDERGAST, St. Louis University, Madrid, Spain, and DR. AUDAX MABULLA, University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, et al., were awarded an International Collaborative Research Grant in November 2011 to aid collaborative research on 'Archaeological Investigation of a 'Moving Frontier' of Early Herding in Northern Tanzania.' A team of international researchers and Tanzanian students conducted surveys and excavations in the Engaruka and Manyara basins and on the Mbulu plateau. This is often thought to be a 'southern frontier' for early herders interacting with local foragers. The surveys documented all site types, including large numbers of Middle and especially Later Stone Age lithics, while Stone Age ceramics were quite rare. However, one site has proven to be the largest intact Pastoral Neolithic site in Tanzania, and the southernmost secure evidence of early herders in eastern Africa. This and other ceramic sites produced a series of precise and relatively early dates, placing the arrival of pastoralism in the early third millennium BP; the dates, when compared with those in Kenya, show no north-south cline, as expected based on existing models of the spread of herding. Connections between northern and southern Pastoral Neolithic sites are demonstrated through sourcing of obsidian artifacts, as well as through similarities in ground stone tools and bowls and, in some cases, ceramics. The survey has identified productive areas for future research, in addition to providing new chronologies and large ceramic, lithic and faunal assemblages from which one can examine early herders' daily lives.
Chazan, Dr. Michael, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'Archaeology of Wonderwerk Cave, Northern Cape Province, South Africa'
DR. MICHAEL CHAZAN, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, was awarded a grant in May 2007 to aid research on 'Archaeology of Wonderwerk Cave, Northern Cape Province, South Africa.' Research funded at Wonderwerk Cave (South Africa) has helped to establish it as one of the most important sites in Southern Africa. Research at the back of the cave (Excavation 6) indicates that over 0.180 Ma (the Fauresmith), hominins introduced into this dark locality (approximately 140m from the cave entrance) objects with special sensory properties. Intercalation of a 3D-laser scan of the cave interior and a survey of the overlying hillside confirms the absence of another entrance, implying purposeful occupation of Excavation 6, perhaps due to its special natural visual and acoustic qualities. This suggests that sensitivity to the sensory properties of a landscape and to materials, formed an integral element in the emergence of modern symbolic behavior. The age of the lowest in situ layers in the cave front (Excavation 1) has been confirmed as ca. 2.0 Ma, and represents the earliest evidence for intentional hominin cave use in the world. This finding was covered widely in the international media and has contributed to the candidacy of this site for World Heritage status.
Chazan, Michael. 2009. Laser Scanning for Conservation and Research of African Cultural Heritage Sites: The Case Study of Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science 36:1847-1856
Soressi, Dr. Marie, U. Bordeaux, Talence, France - To aid research on 'Symbolism and the Pace of Early Behavioral Modernity Development in South Africa, 75,000 years ago'
DR. MARIE SORESSI, of the University of Bordeaux in Talence, France, was awarded a grant in February 2003 to aid research on the pace of development of early behavioral modernity in South Africa and its connection with the appearance of symbolism. Toward this end, Soressi analyzed Middle Stone Age lithic production at the site of Blombos in Western Cape Province. Blombos had earlier yielded several pieces of engraved ocher and a bone tool industry dated to 75,000 b.p. or even older. At Iziko: South Africa Museum in Cape Town in 2003, more than 30,000 artifacts from eleven major stratigraphic units of Blombos were classified, labeled, and analyzed. Some additional collections (three layers from the site of Klasies River Mouth and several open-air Still Bay sites in Western Cape Province) were analyzed to complement the results obtained on Blombos material. The goal of the analysis was to reconstruct the process of production of stone tools, from raw material procurement to last shaping, using the concept of chaîne opératoire. It was expected that when data analysis was completed, Soressi would be able to demonstrate, for the Still Bay stage, a correlation between the scheduling of knapping activities and symbolic behavior as attested by engraved ocher. Such a correlation would favor the inference of a sudden development of behavioral modernity once symbolic behavior such as engraving appeared, and a link in South Africa between full behavioral modernity and anatomically modern humans.
Usman, Dr. Aribidesi A., Arizona State U., Tempe, AZ - To aid research on 'Regional Interaction and Ceramic Distribution in Northern Yorubaland, Nigeria (14th-19th Centuries A.D.)'
DR. ARIBIDESI A. USMAN, of Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, received funding in June 2002 to aid research on 'Regional Interaction and Ceramic Distribution in Northern Yorubaland, Nigeria (14th-19th Centuries AD).' The project was carried out between December 2002 and June 2003. Ten sites from four districts of Igbomina -Erese, Ila, Ilere, and Esisa were examined by survey and excavation to understand how production and distribution of crafts such as ceramics took place in Igbomina. Petrographic, instrumental neutron activation, and ceramic stylistic attributes analyses were employed to identify temper types and size, clay groups, and areas of ceramic concentration. For chronology, charcoal samples provided radiometric dates. From the result, spatially discrete pattern of ceramic temper could be associated with village-to-village variation in ceramic production.. Variation in pottery decoration was observed between the northern and western Igbomina, with striation technique common or restricted to the north, and twisted string roulette as well as varieties of Oyo-Ire diagnostic types to western Igbomina. Instrumental neutron activation analysis identified ceramic reference groups (Ilorin, Ilere, Esisa, and Erese) that can be attributed to specific geographic areas and villages and trade between groups. There appear to be significant differences in trade patterns. In each of the geographic areas of the reference groups, between 72% and 87% of pottery were local. The rest were either local imports (from other geographic areas), or long-distance imports from centers outside Igbomina. Some pottery samples were unassigned to any of the groups, while there are questions as to whether lla-Yara pottery (western Igbomina) and Agunjin pottery (northern Igbomina) were imported or simply made use of clay with chemical similarities with pottery produced elsewhere.
Hildebrand, Dr. Elisabeth A., Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'The Origins of Enset Cultivation: Archaeological Excavations in Southwest Ethiopia,'
DR. ELISABETH ANNE HILDEBRAND, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, received funding in October 2004 to investigate 'The Origins of Enset Cultivation: Archaeological Excavations in Southwest Ethiopia.' From 2004-2006, Hildebrand and colleagues did seven months of survey and excavation of rockshelters in Kafa. Survey documented 25 rockshelters, nine of which were subjected to test excavations. Two rockshelters, Kumali and Koka, have intact sediments of substantial depth with artifacts throughout. Koka, a lowland shelter, has moderate amounts of non-obsidian lithics, bone, ceramics, and plant remains. Kumali, a cavity in a highland basalt escarpment, has abundant ceramics and obsidian microliths; well-preserved bone, leather, and shell; and dense concentrations of desiccated macrobotanical remains and dung. Analyses are yielding the first cultural chronology for southwest Ethiopia, and important information about plant and animal subsistence intensification during the Holocene. Project activities included a field school for Addis Ababa University archaeology students, and coring of Kafa swamps and ponds to obtain paleoenvironmental data. Local modern vegetation studies funded through this grant, conducted by Addis Ababa University botany MA students, will provide a more secure foundation for interpretation of paleoenvironmental and macrobotanical data.
Logan, Amanda Lee, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Practicing Change, Remembering Continuity: Incorporating Global Foods into Daily Routines in Banda, Ghana, AD 1000 - Present,' supervised by Dr. Carla M. Sinopoli
AMANDA L. LOGAN, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, was awarded funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Practicing Change, Remembering Continuity: Incorporating Global Foods into Daily Routines in Banda, Ghana (AD 1000 to Present),' supervised by Dr. Carla M. Sinopoli. This study examined how global pressures impacted daily life in West Africa through the lens of food and domestic architecture. Research focused on Banda, a region in west central Ghana that has seen sustained archaeological work that has documented shifts in political economy over the last 1000 years. Investigations focused on how people incorporated new crops into daily practice during each of these shifts, and whether or not dietary continuities and changes corresponded with changes in domestic architecture. People relied mostly on indigenous grains pearl millet and sorghum for much of the last millennium. Maize, a high yielding American crop, arrived quickly in Banda (c. 1660), but did not become a staple until the 1890s under conditions of political and economic duress associated with the shift to market economies and colonial rule. These data point to the political underpinnings of food insecurity, and suggest that in the Banda area such problems did not emerge until quite late. Shifts in house form and construction techniques also hint at shifts in standard of living as Banda moved from an important node in Niger trade to a periphery in the modern world system.
Mothulatshipi, Dr. Sarah, U. of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana - To aid 'Biennial Meeting of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA): Thirty Years On,' 2013, U. of Botswana, in collaboration with Dr. Cynthia Mooketsi
'Biennial Meeting of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA)'
July 3-7, 2013, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana
Organizers: Dr. Sarah Mothulatshipi and Dr. Cynthia Mooketsi (U. Botswana)
With the theme of 'Thirty Years On: Reflections and Retrospections on Southern African Archaeology since 1983,' the conference commemorated the thirtieth anniversary of the original Gabarone meetings, when participants from Mozambique and Zimbabwe broke away from their South African counterparts for failing to support a motion condemning the South African government and its racist policies. The conference convened over 250 participants from across southern Africa, along with international scholars whose research interests are in the region and students from regional universities. With support from Wenner-Gren, for the first time in the history of the conference students outnumbered professionals, and gained representation in the ASAPA council. In the plenary session, the keynote speakers emphasized the need for the discipline to be more inclusive, to better address current problems (such as sustainable development, food security, and urbanization), and to more fully engage with the communities where archaeological research is being conducted.