Jillani, Mr. Ngalla Edward, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya - To aid conference on 'Towards Understanding Palaeoenvironment during the First 'Out of Africa,' ' 2006, National Museums, in collaboration with Dr. Fredrick Kyala Manthi
Geo-environmental conditions may have triggered migrations at various times in the last 3 million years ago. Physical human factors and the environment can also trigger movement both at local and continental scale. Ecology and behaviour of a dispersing species becomes more variable as novel environments are settled and no close competitors are encountered. Adaptability, key factor to an organism's ability to endure change, thrive and spread to new environments rather than climatic shift and expansion of grasslands may explain success of early Homo in its novel environments. Ubeidiya, with Mediterranean-type of environmental setting contrary to woody savannahs earlier interpreted for the initial stages of exodus, may mean that ecological success of hominins dispersing out of Africa should be sought in intrinsic characters rather than their adaptation to Savanna grasslands. Migration to another continent represents a radical departure into the unknown and usually follows easiest routes to regain known conditions. Foreign environments are colonized only if known habitats are completely destroyed till there is nothing to live on. Considerable changes in faunas during early Pleistocene in East Africa saw Primates and Carnivores experiencing increase in speciation and extinction rates. Ecosystems re-organization in the region's basins potentially encouraged dispersion through search of new resources and increased inter and intra specific population competition. Anatomical and behavioural evidences point to first migration by Homo into Eurasia from Africa about 1.7 million years ago (ma) at 3 km per generation. This quick successful dispersal and colonization possibly took place via the Levant, Sinai Peninsula, Afar triangle into the Arabian peninsular or the strait of Bab al Mandab. Brain size and specialized technology seem to have conferred less advantage despite the latter's considered significance in hominid evolution. High hominid variability evident in Dmanisi and Turkana basin imply that those penetrating new environments and colonizing new lands were experiencing ecological release, key to behavioural changes. An endemic species, Homo australis, colonized South Africa and highly probably Homo erectus/ergaster never did. To create a clearer out of Africa picture, more field research works be directed to areas not extensively worked, combining theoretical and methodological themes in the field, tease out stress driven markers in teeth to decipher environmental/ecological stresses, consider exodus as a process therefore work towards predictive models by considering short time intervals and finally encourage active collaborative data exchange among researchers in all regions.
Ogundiran, Dr. Akinwumi, Florida International U., Miami, FL - To aid research on 'The Incorporation of Yoruba Hinterland into the Atlantic Economy: Archaeology and Historical Ethnography in Upper Osun'
Semaw, Dr. Sileshi, Stone Age Institute, Gosport, IN - To aid the 'Gona Palaeoanthropological Research Project'
DR. SILESHI SEMAW, Stone Age Institute, Gosport, Indiana, was awarded funding in November 2009, to aid the 'Gona Palaeoanthropological Research Project.' The Gona Palaeoanthropological Research Project, Afar, Ethiopia, is known for yielding a large number of stone artifacts and associated fragmentary fossil bones dated to 2.6 Ma, which are the oldest well documented archaeological materials in the world. In part funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Gona archaeology team continued fieldwork in 2010 and discovered stone artifacts with extraordinary information from newly opened excavations at the site of OGS-7 (in the Ounda Gona South area). The newly excavated stone artifacts include the first hammerstone to ever be found with the earliest archaeological materials dated to 2.6 Ma, more than a dozen cores (some radially-worked), a pick-like core, a large number of débitage (including whole flakes and angular fragments) and associated fragmentary fossil bones. The stone artifacts were recovered within fine-grained sediments and their condition was very fresh. Further, the Gona archaeology team conducted extended systematic surveys in the older deposits dated between 2.6-3.0 Ma to document the presence of any stones/bones modified as a result of hominid activities. The team collected several fossil fauna, but no modified stones/bones were encountered in these deposits. Based on the abundance of archaeological sites documented at 2.6 Ma at Gona and the superior knapping skills shown on the techniques of the manufacture of these artifacts, it is possible that the beginnings of the use of flaked stones may go back further in time, probably as early as 2.9 Ma. The last fossil evidence for Australopithecus afarensis is dated to 2.9 Ma, and it is likely that a new hominid species that evolved after the demise of A. afarensis could have begun manipulating stones, eventually discovering sharp cutting tools from stones probably used for activities related to animal butchery. Recently the Dikika Project (located south of the Gona study area) announced 3.4 Ma fossil bones that the team claims to have been intentionally modified by A. afarensis. However, this claim cannot be scientifically substantiated because it was based on two surface collected bones with no geological context, and with no evidence of a single stone artifact to back it up. In addition, the cutmark evidence from Dikika was challenged, and a number of experts in taphonomy believe that the modifications exhibited on the bones represent evidence that is typical of trampling. Therefore, currently Gona is the only site that has yielded scientifically proven stone artifacts and fossil bones that are the oldest documented in the world.
Tsheboeng, Dr. Alfred, U. of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana - To aid the 12th Congress of the Pan African Archaeological Association for Prehistory and Related Studies, 2005, U. of Botswana, in collaboration with Dr. Gilbert Pwiti
Frey, Carol J., U. of Washington, Seattle, WA - To aid research on 'Pastoralism's Ecological Legacy: Zooarchaeological Investigation in the Southwest Cape, South Africa,' supervised by Dr. Donald K. Grayson
CAROL J. FREY, then a student at the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, was awarded a grant in October 2003 to aid research on 'Pastoralism's Ecological Legacy: Zooarchaeological Investigation in the Southwest Cape, South Africa,' supervised by Dr. Donald K. Grayson. This research used archaeofaunal remains to examine the prehistoric ecological impacts of the introduction of herding in the winter rainfall region of South Africa. Ecologists and conservationists recognize that the shapes and courses of modern ecosystems are plotted by the legacy of prior human land use and by long-term ecological community dynamics. In the Western Cape, already occupied by hunter-gatherers and native wild fauna, sheep (Ovis aries) and cattle (Bos taurus) were introduced between c. 2000 and 1300 years ago. In order to address how this prehistoric introduction of herd animals and herding economies may have affected the landscape, archaeofaunal remains were examined from three well-stratified sites that span the preceding period, as well as the local introduction and the development of pastoralism: Die Kelders, Kasteelberg and Paternoster. Factors relevant to addressing changes in human use of the landscape and changes in the Landscape itself include the types and range of prey taken by humans before and after the arrival of domestic animals, transport decisions, prey demographics, and live condition. Taxon, skeletal element, age-at-death, butchery and taphonomic data were collected for more than 30,000 reptile and mammal remains. Conical bone thickness, a potential indicator of animals' live condition, was recorded using X-ray photography of complete long bones and bone portions. Preliminary results suggest that the introduced domesticates did not directly impact wild populations, but shifts in human landscape use, consequent to the introduction of herding, did have effects on certain native taxa.
Mehari, Asmeret Ghebreigziabiher, U. of Florida, Gainesville, FL - To aid research on 'Decolonizing the Pedagogy of Archaeology in East Africa,' supervised by Dr. Peter R. Schmidt
ASMERET G. MEHARI, then a student at University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, received funding in October 2009 to aid research on 'Decolonizing the Pedagogy of Archaeology in East Africa,' supervised by Dr. Peter R. Schmidt. This dissertation research explores the nature of archaeology in postcolonial East Africa using Tanzania and Uganda as case studies. Its main focus is analyzing the history and development of practicing and teaching archaeology by African scholars. Particularly, it examines what constitutes local archaeological research and how emerging local professionals contribute towards decolonizing archaeology in the region, meaning creating archaeological practices and pedagogies that are liberated and locally relevant. The methods for collecting relevant information include in-depth interviews with archaeologists, students, local communities, and antiquities and museum officials; archival research at university libraries, museums, and national research clearance institutions; participant observation -attending field schools and class-room based lectures, occasionally delivering lectures to undergraduate students, and living with local communities who reside around archaeological sites. Research findings show that most archaeological research is performed under collaborative projects that are mainly run by European-descendant Africanist scholars. Local Ugandan and Tanzanian scholars are most likely to have a profound influence on decolonizing archaeology through their own self-initiated and administrated projects. The contributions of local scholars vary but predominantly their efforts have been directed to the final product of archaeological research - primarily in the rewritings of African history.