Lyons, Dr. Diane Elaine, U. of Calgary, Calgary, Canada - To aid research on 'The Yeha Pottery Project'
DR. DIANE E. LYONS, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada, was awarded a grant in October 2011 to aid research on 'The Yeha Pottery Project.' Material signatures of marginalized identities of female market potters living near Yeha in central Tigray, northern highland Ethiopia. were investigated. The study builds upon a previous study of market potters in eastern Tigray and provides a regional comparison. In Tigray and other societies across sub-Saharan Africa, different types of artisans are marginalized. The antiquity of these practices is unknown, but such practices are implicated in the construction of social complexity. Ethnoarchaeological field research determined the Yeha area potters' technological style, which is a material identity for each potter community. Comparison of the two studies shows that Tigray's central and eastern potters produce similar pottery types, but they use distinct technological styles. INAA analysis of pottery samples demonstrates distinct chemical signatures for the pottery from the two regions. Technological styles and INAA analyses can be used to track the history and interaction of these potter communities in the ancient past. Both regions express some spatial marginalization of potter communities, and in both contexts potters experience verbal insults, greater poverty than their farmer neighbors, and sometimes violence in clay mining extraction. When potters are compared with more stigmatized blacksmiths, a landscape of socially meaningful places associated with these stigmatizing practices emerges.
Mussi, Dr. Margherita, U. of Rome, Rome, Italy - To aid workshop on 'The Emergence of the Acheulean in East Africa,' 2013, U. of Rome, in collaboration with Dr. Rosalia Gallotti
Preliminary abstract: The end of the Oldowan, and the origin of the Acheulean, are widely debated in Early Stone Age studies. In East Africa, there is now solid geochronological evidence pointing to the emergence of the Acheulean between 1.76 and 1.4 Ma. New approaches to lithic collections, including analysis of lithic technology, also put into question previous techno-typological definitions. Doubts have aroused on the hypothesis of a coexistence of Developed Oldowan and Early Acheulean.Despite ongoing discussions, however, the tempo and mode of technological changes leading to the emergence of the Acheulean are still poorly understood. This has wide implications outside Africa, as the Acheulean is also found in Europe and Asia The aim of the proposed workshop is to bring together for the first time researchers currently working in this field in East Africa, in order to define: 1) the characteristics of the Early Acheulean; 2) the evolution of the Early Acheulean.The role of the Early Acheulean in the emergence of the Acheulean outside Africa will not be dealt into any detail. However, the outcome of the workshop will also pave the way to better understanding dispersals into other continents, and/or typo-technological convergences.
Barham, Dr. Lawrence S., U. of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom - To aid 'Excavation and Dating of the Oldowan Industry in the Luangwa Valley, Zambia'
DR. LAWRENCE S. BARHAM, of the University of Bristol in Bristol, England, received funding in July 2003 to aid excavation and dating of the Oldowan tool industry in the Luangwa Valley, Zambia. The Luangwa rift valley in eastern Zambia is the setting for a five-year archaeological and paleoenvironmental project, the aim of which is to develop a chronology of human use of the valley from the first stone tool makers to the first farmers. Artifacts representing all the major phases of the African Stone Age have been found there, including Oldowan cores and flakes, Acheulean bifaces, Middle Stone Age points, and Late Stone Age microliths, as well as the distinctive geometric rock art of central Africa. Early and later Iron Age settlements have also been located. Archaeologists have not systematically studied the valley, but research elsewhere in Zambia points to the region as a possible refuge for humans during the prolonged arid periods that characterized Pleistocene glacial cycles. The Luangwa River, with its many tributaries, lagoons, and nearby hot springs, may have provided critical food resources for hunter-gatherers throughout the last two million years. One aim of the project is to test this hypothesis by looking for continuity in occupation during known arid phases. The valley also forms a natural corridor linking eastern and southern Africa, making it a likely route of dispersal for early hominids and later humans, including farmers. In this first season, with a team of seven students, Barham sampled six sites covering key periods in the region's prehistory. Specialists from the universities of Lancaster (V. Karloukovski, paleomagnetism) and Edinburgh (W. Phillips, cosmogenic nuclides) took samples for dating.
Sadr, Dr. Karim, U. of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa - To aid research on 'Dating the Archaeological Sequence of the West Coast, South Africa'
DR. KARIM SADR, of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, received funding in January 2003 to aid research on the dating of the archaeological sequence of the west coast of South Africa. Sadr's objective was to test an archaeological sequence through the radiocarbon dating of surface marine shell samples from sixty-three sites. Ninety-seven shell samples were processed by the Quaternary Dating Research Unit of the CSIR in Pretoria. Preliminary results, combining the new marine shell dates with the corpus of published dates for the area, revealed a large increase in the number of radiocarbon dates for the period from about 500 to 1500 c.e. Assuming that the number of dates from any period serves as a proxy for population size, it can be suggested that this area experienced a major and rapid population increase in the second half of the first millennium c.e. This correlates with the period when sheep-rich sites are found in this landscape, though it does not correlate with the earliest appearance of livestock there. At face value, this finding refutes the currently accepted idea that livestock were originally introduced to the west coast of South Africa by a wave of migrants. Whatever the meaning of the late-first-millennium population peak, it clearly represents a major event in the history of this area.
Sadr, Karim. 2003. Feasting on Kasteelberg? Early Herders on the West Coast of South Africa. In Before Farming. [online version] 2004/3 article 2.
Bon, Francois, Karim Sadr, Detlef Gronenborn, and F. Fauvelle-Aymar. 2006. The Visibility and Invisibility of Herders’ Kraals in Southern Africa, with Reference to a Possible Early Contact Period Khoekhoe Kraal at DFS 5, Western Cape. Journal of African Archaeology 4(2): 253-271.
Sadr, Karim and Garth Sampson. 2006. Through Thick and Thin: Early Pottery in Southern Africa. Journal of African
Archaeology 4(2): 235-252.
Sadr, Karim and Francois-Xavier Fauvelle-Aymar. 2006. Ellipsoid Grinding Hollows on the West Coast of South Africa. Southern African Humanities 18(2): 29-50.
Chazan, Dr. Michael, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid '2012 Meeting of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists,' Victoria College, U. of Toronto, in collaboration with Dr. Susan Pfeiffer.
'The 2012 Meeting of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA)'
June 20-23, 2012, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
Organizers: Dr. Michael Chazan and Dr. Susan Pfeiffer (U. Toronto)
The theme of the SAfA meeting was 'Exploring Diversity, Discovering Connections,' which was carried through in a program featuring over 250 papers and thirty posters highlighting the diversity of African archaeology. One could walk from a discussion of glass trade beads in West Africa to presentations on the dating of Acheulean sites in southern Africa and still find time to hear about the challenges of archaeological training in resource strapped institutions in Central Africa. What was most striking was the vitality of the research described and the openness to discussion both within sessions and most importantly in informal settings. The archaeology of Africa is a vast discipline in which much remains to be learned. The political context of research is often complex and the threats to heritage very real. The 2012 meeting of SAfA helped further dialogue and forging connections among the international community of archaeologists working in Africa.
Swanepoel, Natalie J., Syracuse U., Syracuse, NY - To aid research on 'Social and Political Change on the Slave-Raiding Frontier: Nineteenth Century Sisalaland, Northern Ghana,' supervised by Dr. Christopher R. DeCorse
NATALIE J. SWANEPOEL, while a student at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, was awarded a grant in January 2001 to aid research on 'Social and Political Change on the Slave-Raiding Frontier: Nineteenth Century Sisalaland, Northern Ghana,' supervised by Dr. Christopher R. DeCorse. The aim of the research was to investigate the changes that occurred among the Sisala -- a 'decentralized' society during the nineteenth century as a result of increased (slave) warfare and an expanded trade network. Twelve months of archaeological, archival and oral historical research was carried out between April 2001 and August 2002. Archaeological research concentrated on the late nineteenth century site of Yalingbong, a naturally fortified hilltop that was used as a refuge during a war that took place between a local village, Kpan, and the Zaberma, a group of armed, Islamic horsemen. In addition, it was used as a base of operations by the Kpan community in their own raids against neighboring communities while also acting as a trade center in the region. Mapping, surface collections and test excavations were conducted at fourteen of a possible thirty loci. Supported by documentary and oral historical evidence the archaeological finds shed light on the complexity of the domestic slave trade in Africa, the expansion of trade networks in the African interior, the nature of warfare, the impact of colonial administration in northern Ghana and the changing political structure of 'decentralized' societies as a response to increased warfare.
Swanepoel, Natalie. 2006. 'Socio-political Change on a Slave-trading Frontier: War, Trade, and ‘Big Men’ in Nineteenth Century Sisalaland, Northern Ghana,' pp. 265-294, in Paste Tense: Studies in Conflict Archaeology (I. Banks and T. Pollard, eds.), Brill Academic Publishers: Leiden.
Engmann, Dr. Rachel Ama Asaa, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA - To aid research on ''Slavers in the Family': The Archaeology of the Slaver in Eighteenth Century Gold Coast'
Preliminary abstract: 'Slavers In the Family': The Archaeology of the Slaver in the Eighteenth Century Gold Coast is a study of Christiansborg Castle, a seventeenth century European colonial trading castle. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the castle is also a former Danish and British colonial seat of government administration, and until recently, the Office of the President of the Republic of Ghana. This research employs monuments, material culture and museum narratives to study race, ethnicity, class, gender, power and social inequality, alongside memory and amnesia, and their effects on nation building, development and heritage. In a wider context, this research addresses the visual, material and extra-discursive forms of the triple legacies of the slave trade, colonialism and independence, as a strategy for understanding the complexities of the politics of the past in the present.
Wilmsen, Dr. Edwin, U. of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK - To aid engaged activities on 'Reciprocal Relations: Expanding the Benefits of Research in the Study Area,' 2015, Botswana
Preliminary abstract: This project has two foci. The first emphasizes outreach possibilities at two villages - Manaledi and Pilikwe, Botswana. Potters in both need greater exposure of their wares to potential buyers to increase income and encourage younger women's desire to expand their livelihood and hone entrepreneurial skills through potting. We will conduct discussions in each village presenting results of our studies in terms of initiatives to strengthen their ability to be active agents in their economic-political development and showing our films of their work, emphasizing their promotional value. Ownership of clay mines is a major concern of villagers; therefore current Tswana concepts of land and its resources and the potential of archaeological evidence for ascertaining legatee status with respect to such resources will be a key topic. The second focus is on a joint day-long seminar followed by a workshop for archaeologists in the University of Botswana and the National Museum. The seminar will begin with screening of the films stressing transformation of rock into clay, something with little attention in the literature. The workshop will interrogate a pluralist ethnoarchaeology concerned with the study of reciprocal transformations of technical systems and the socioeconomic organizations of a society in which they operate.
Lyons, Dr. Diane E., U. of Calgary, Calgary, Canada - To aid the 'Slehleka Pottery Project'
Preliminary abstract: This study investigates material signatures of caste identities of Slehleka market potters in Tigray State in northern highland Ethiopia. Artisan marginalization is found in many societies across sub-Saharan Africa but material means to investigate its history are needed. This study builds upon two previous studies of Tigray's marginalized potters in central and eastern Tigray. Importantly Slehleka potters have a caste identity, which the other two communities did not, and it is anticipated that the study will find important variability in the material and spatial expression of marginalized identities. An important aspect of the study is determining the technological style of the Slehleka potters using the chaine operatoire approach. Their technological style will be compared with those of the other two potter communities to show their relationships. Ultimately the study will provide a full regional perspective of Tigray's contemporary pottery traditions, the material means to investigate the history of marginalized craft practices in Tigray and elsewhere in Africa, and it contributes to our understanding of how marginalized identities and social inequities are materially constituted in peasant communities.