Hildebrand, Dr. Elisabeth, Stony Brook U., NY - To aid workshop on 'From Fishers to Herders: Holocene Subsistence Intensification in the Turkana Basin,' 2008, East Hampton, NY, in collaboration with Dr. Richard Leakey
'From Fishers to Herders: Holocene Subsistence Intensification in the Turkana Basin'
October 13-18, 2009, East Hampton, New York
Organizers: Elisabeth Hildebrand and Richard Leakey (Stony Brook University)
The sixth in a series of Human Evolution Workshops organized by the Turkana Basin Institute and Stony Brook University, this meeting brought together 20 scholars (including graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and senior scholars) from Kenya, Ethiopia, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Core themes for discussion included contemporary diversity among early Holocene hunter-gatherers around Lake Turkana, the beginnings of herding in northwest Kenya, and the development of social complexity among local herders. Participants evaluated current paleoenvironmental records for the basin, critiqued existing chronological sequences, and suggested ways to improve both. Several archaeologists compared trajectories of social change in Holocene Turkana with those in other parts of Africa (central and western Kenya, the Sahara, Ethiopia, and coastal Eritrea), encouraging all participants to consider Turkana research in a broader geographical and anthropological framework. Senior and junior scholars together devised strategies to refine research efforts around the lake, push new investigations into surrounding areas, and ensure future collaboration between research teams.
Logan, Dr, Amanda, Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid engaged activities on 'Histories of Food, Home, and Field: Celebrating Women's Knowledge and Sustainable Choices in Banda, Ghana,' 2014, Banda, Ghana
DR. AMANDA LOGAN, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, was awarded funding in February 2014 to aid engaged activities on 'Histories of Food, Home, and Field: Celebrating Women's Knowledge and Sustainable Choices in Banda, Ghana.' Building on research supported by a Wenner-Gren grant in 2010, this engagement project involved the presentation of long-term histories of food, home, and field to the community of Banda, Ghana. After several weeks of community consultation, a 'Remembering the Past Celebration' was held at the Banda Cultural Centre in July 2014. The intent was to generate interest in the past to help bridge generational divides, highlight women's knowledge, and de-stigmatize certain practices associated with poverty. The event included five poster displays interpreted by trained historical ambassadors that focused on what can be learned from the past; an Olden Times Food Fair, with fourteen different dishes prepared by local women; and potters, spinners, weavers, and carvers making their crafts. Attendance was much higher than expected, with an estimated 400 people in attendance. Several focus groups were held after the event in order to stimulate conversation on what can be learned from the past, which practices should and should not be revived, and how best to disseminate and promote knowledge about the past. In the short term, a Heritage Farmers group was formed to experiment with 'lost' crops, and a Banda Heritage Facebook page was launched.
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.
Richard, Francois G., Syracuse U., Syracuse, NY - To aid research on 'Landscapes of Complexity: An Archaeological Study of Sociopolitical Change in Siin (Senegal), AD 1000-1900,' supervised by Dr. Christopher R. DeCorse
FRANCOIS G. RICHARD, while a student at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, received funding in January 2003 to aid archaeological research on sociopolitical change in Siin (Senegal) from 1000 to 1900 c.e., under the supervision of Dr. Christopher R. DeCorse. Richard examined long-term changes in political complexity and social landscapes in Siin through the combined lenses of archaeology, historical documents, and oral traditions. This region was a vibrant frontier, intimately connected to Senegambia's turbulent political economy and history of migrations, cultural encounters, and oscillations between centralized and dispersed social organization. To capture local expressions of these social processes, Richard conducted a systematic survey of three zones associated with state formation, identifying more than 180 sites ranging from late Neolithic to recent historic occupations. Limited subsurface testing was done at seven sites. The archaeological work was complemented by an examination of archives to gain insights into regional dynamics during the historic period. Collected surface and excavated materials were expected to enable Richard to (1) create a regional baseline of information on site distribution, settlement layout, subsistence economy, long-distance trade, and technology; (2) establish a chronological framework for regional sites; (3) document Siin's sociopolitical trajectories through village dynamics and settlement networks; and (4) examine variations in settlement patterns and artifact assemblages in order to understand how local societies responded to Senegambia's changing political economy.
Susino, George James, U. of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa - To aid research on 'Optical Dating of Quartz Microdebitage from Archaeological Deposits of Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa'
DR. GEORGE JAMES SUSINO, then a student at University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, was awarded funding in October 2006 to aid research on 'Optical Dating of Quartz Microdebitage from Archaeological Deposits of Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.' This research addresses several key problems related to the understanding of archaeological site formation processes. In recent years, the reliance on sedimentary layers for chronological analysis of archaeological sites has been problematic. Site deposit disturbance is difficult to quantify, and archaeology has adopted several strategies for dating events within the stratigraphy. The most common is to date the terminus post quem, or the location of the lowest artefact (regardless of the movement of the material in the deposit). This research redresses these methodological problems by direct dating of remnant artefactual material (quartz microdebitage) and sedimentary quartz separately with optical dating techniques as to discern differences in age between the sedimentary and artefactual material. The OSL chronologies are then correlated with the extensive age determination achieved by other dating techniques (Radiocarbon and OSL on sediments). The Sibudu Cave site was selected primarily for the ready availability of sediment samples collected previously for optical dating and for the site importance for the understanding of changes within lithic technology from Early Stone Age to Late Stone Age. This research will apply a rigorous test for the validity of the chronology of lithic typologies at Sibudu Cave, and as a test of direct dating of artefactual material as opposed to the dating of sedimentary layers.
D'Andrea, A. Catherine, Simon Fraser U., Burnaby, BC, Canada - To aid 'Ethnoarchaeological Studies of Sorghum, Middle Nile Basin, Sudan'
DR. CATHERINE A. D'ANDREA, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, received funding in June 2004 to aid 'Ethnoarchaeological Studies of Sorghum, Middle Nile Basin, Sudan.' Anthropological field research in the Mahas region of northern Sudan was designed to investigate ancient and modern Sudanese crop and food processing techniques, emphasizing sorghum-based foods. These issues were examined through ethnoarchaeological interviews of Mahas farmers and sampling for archaeological plant remains at the Meroitic site of Dangeil, near Atbara. The persistence of traditional farming practices in the Mahas coupled with the recent introduction of mechanised equipment makes this a fascinating ethnoarchaeological study on its own, but it also provides an interesting comparison with recently completed studies in Ethiopia. Interviews documented impacts of the discontinuation of old technology and introduction of new implements, as well as a concomitant decline in the traditional knowledge base associated with sorghum and other indigenous crops. The social contexts of food storage, processing, and baking were documented by mapping modern and abandoned residential compounds and noting the location of food processing and related activities, including an in-depth study of griddle bread-baking technology. Ancient residues of crop processing and bread baking were sampled from a temple bakery at Dangeil, focussing on seeds, starch grains, and microscopic plant silica skeletons. These archaeobotanical samples will provide useful archaeological correlates to the ethnoarchaeological data collected in the Mahas.
Waweru, Dr. Veronica Njoki, Stony Brook U., Stony Brook, NY - To aid research on 'Chronology of Holocene Innovations and Inventions in West Turkana, Kenya'
DR. VERONICA N. WAWERU, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, was awarded a grant in October 2009 to aid research on 'Chronology of Holocene Innovations and Inventions in West Turkana, Kenya.' Chronology data from this research provide better resolution for dates of innovations in West Turkana between 8.2ka and 0.87ka. The Holocene marks the introduction of domestic fauna in a region that until ~5ka relied on a hunting/gathering/fishing subsistence base. A combination of Thermoluminescence (TL) and Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) methods were used to refine the timeline for innovations at different paleo-habitats in West Turkana. The study confirms existing dates for the large fishing village of Lothagam and also yields older dates for the Later Holocene lacustrine sites of Lopoy and Napedet than previously known. Aggregate data from the Holocene in the Turkana Basin is uninformative about whether local hunter/fishers adopted pastoralism or if demic movements brought the new socio-economic package of domesticate fauna and pillar-building. Chronology data from this research and that of other scientists in the last 40 years point to the existence of a mixed strategy involving hunting, fishing, and use of small domestic stock up to the very late Holocene. Niche partitioning may explain the existence of multiple economic strategies where different social groups pursued varied subsistence strategies while maintaining exchange relations involving ceramics and domestic stock. Future research will seek to answer this question.
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.