Smith, Abigail Chipps, Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'Mobility and Urbanism: The Place of Mobile Pastoralists in Mali's Iron Age Cities,' supervised by Dr. Fiona B. Marshall
ABIGAIL C. SMITH, then a student at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, was awarded funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Mobility and Urbanism: The Place of Mobile Pastoralists in Mali's Iron Age Cities,' supervised by Dr. Fiona B. Marshall. This project investigates the relationship between mobile pastoral groups and urban populations in the past, focusing on the site of Jenné-jeno and its surrounding landscape. The project draws on four months of extensive excavation at two archaeological sites, Tato à Sanouna and Thiel, near the modern town of Djenné in Mali's Inland Niger Delta. Multiple lines of evidence are used to identify past modes of life in these sites and at the well-known ancient city of Jenné-jeno between about 200 to 1500 CE, particularly the interrelationship between sedentary urbanism, subsistence specialization, and mobile pastoralism. As the first large-scale excavation of smaller, outlying sites in the area, this project increases our understanding of the extent and variability of local human settlement. Additionally, the project's focus on subsistence and specialization provides empirical data about the trajectories of West African pastoralism and agriculture. This information enables discussion of the role of pastoral populations in the Jenné-jeno urban system and impacts our understanding of Jenné-jeno's trade relationships and political organization. Given the unique trajectories of African food production when compared to other world areas, this project is an important contribution to our understanding of variability in global pastoral strategies and mobile-sedentary interactions.
Cancellieri, Dr. Emanuele, U. di Roma, Rome, Italy - To aid research on 'Dating the Spread of the Aterian in the Central Sahara'
Preliminary abstract: Timing and routes of dispersal of H. sapiens across and out of the African continent are hotly debated. There is increasing evidence about a possible Saharan 'corridor' mostly based on environmental data, but archaeological data are scanty. The project principal aim is the acquisition of a new set of luminescence datings from selected MSA sites in SW Libya. The need for a refined chronology , especially for the Aterian of the Central Sahara, is nowadays crucial to track the spread of modern humans across North Africa in the late Quaternary given a) its sub-Saharan Middle Pleistocene likely origin and b) its early occurrence (MIS 6/5) in the Maghreb. The research will be conducted in the Fezzan region and will target two cave sites (Uan Afuda and Uan Telocat) in the Tadrart Acacus mountain range and one open-air site (01/134) in the Erg Titersin, NW of Acacus. The Uan Afuda MSA sequence has been already dated in the nineties but with as large sigmas as to justify a new dating. The material from Uan Telocat is unpublished and no dating was performed. At site 01/134 Aterian artefacts were recognized to lie beneath lacustrine levels. The excavation of a small trench at each site will provide soil samples to be dated by OSL and TL, as well as a new set of archaeological material useful to refine cultural and behavioral aspects.
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.
Galloti, Dr. Rosalia, U. of Rome, Rome, Italy - To aid research on 'Technical Behaviors During the Oldowan at Garba IVD (Melka Kunture, Ethiopia)'
DR. ROSALIA GALLOTTI, University of Rome, Rome, Italy, received funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'Technical Behaviors during the Oldowan at Garba IVD (Melka Kunture, Ethiopia).' The site of Garba IVD has yielded one of the richest lithic assemblages in East Africa dated to 1.5-1.4 Ma. This period is crucial to understand the relationship between Oldowan and Early Acheulean and to characterize the diagnostic aspects of these early human activities. The lithic production of Oldowan knappers at Garba IVD denotes an evidence of raw material selection, involving a certain level of knowledge of the effects of volcanic rocks properties. The production of small-medium flakes is the principal goal of the knapping activity. The débitage methods are similar to those identified in other Oldowan East African sites. Obsidian exploitation strategies show a more complex techno-economic pattern. The use of this high-quality raw material is a unicum in the Oldowan framework. The rare and not-systematic production of Large Cutting Tools does not present the same characteristic patterns of the Early Acheulean assemblages in East Africa as specific raw materials procurement modalities and particular processes of core reduction to obtain large blanks. In the end the revision of the Garba IVD assemblage adds new data confirming the idea of a more elaborate and variable Oldowan complex, proposed in recent years by the technological re-examination of other East African penecontemporaneus sites.
Gallotti, Rosalia. 2013. An Older Origin for the Acheulean at Melka Kunture (Upper Awash, Ethiopia): Techno-economic Behaviours at Garba IVD. Journal of Human Evolution 65(5):594-620.
Pobiner, Briana L., Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid research on 'Oldowan Hominid Carnivory: Bone Modification Studies at Koobi Fora and Olduvai Gorge,' supervised by Dr. Robert J. Blumenschine
Pobiner, Briana L., Michael J. Rogers, Christopher M. Monahan, and John W.K. Harris. 2008. New Evidence for Hominin Carcass Processing Strategies at 1.5 Ma, Koobi Fora, Kenya. Journal of Human Evolution 55(1):103-130
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.
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.