Stewart, Dr. Brian Alfred, U. of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'The Middle Stone Age of the Lesotho Highlands'
DR. BRIAN AL. STEWART, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom, was awarded a grant in May 2010 to aid research on 'The Middle Stone Age of the Lesotho Highlands.' An understanding of the diversity of early modern human adaptations is compromised by a geographical research bias towards the southern African coasts. This project redresses this by exploring high-altitude landscape use by Middle Stone Age societies in highland Lesotho. The project's mainstays are targeted excavations at two large rockshelters: Melikane and Sehonghong. Wenner-Gren funding supported a series of key scientific analyses on aspects of the sedimentary sequence at Melikane. This helped establish the basic processes responsible for forming this sequence, when these processes occurred and the environmental conditions during these times. The results suggest that although a highly complex interplay of natural and cultural agents generated this sequence, four main depositional types can be distinguished on a sedimentological basis. Human occupation at Melikane occurred in relatively short bursts at 83,000 years ago (ka), 60ka, 50ka, 46-38ka, 24ka, 9ka, 3ka, and several hundred years ago. Wood charcoals from human fires and the isotopic signatures of the sediments show the environment was colder and typically drier than present-day, though it appears the local river was always capable of supporting water-loving trees and shrubs. One hypothesis is that the reliable freshwater provided by the mountains attracted humans to the area during especially dry periods.
Chemere, Dr. Yonatan Sahle, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'A Closer Investigation of Early Complex Projectile Technologies at Porc-Epic Cave and Aduma, Ethiopia'
Preliminary abstract: Complex projectiles (i.e. those delivered using a mechanical propeller) provide broader lethal ranges than throwing spears (i.e. 'simple' projectiles). They are therefore considered decisive for the successful adaptation and dispersal of modern humans during the Upper Pleistocene. The identification of such mechanically projected weapons in deep antiquity has proven difficult, as conclusive evidence indicating the mode of weapon delivery is as yet lacking from the African Middle Stone Age (MSA). Based on indirect evidence, archaeologists suggest that complex projectiles were already used in Africa by 100-50 kya. Suggestions from the Ethiopian MSA sites of Porc-Epic Cave and Aduma particularly derive from several hundred stone points that may have been used to tip arrows and/or darts. However, these inferences rely only on shape, weight, and/or retouch attributes of the stone points, informing on potential (rather than actual) use of the points as complex projectile tips. Considering their adaptive and cognitive implications, an exhaustive investigation of the origin of complex projectiles in Africa remains crucial. With the application of multiple approaches, including the non-subjective fracture velocity method, this study seeks to assess whether some of the MSA stone points from Porc-Epic Cave and Aduma represent early complex projectiles.
Watts, Dr. Ian Douglas Somerled, Independent Scholar, Athens, Greece - To aid research on 'The Antiquity and Behavioural Implications of Pigment Use in the Northern Cape (South Africa),'
Preliminary abstract: The project evaluates claims (Beaumont & Vogel 2006) for pigment use in various Northern Cape (South Africa) Fauresmith and Acheulian assemblages, focussing on the recently dated Kathu Pan and Wonderwerk sequences. These claims challenge current models of the evolution of collective ritual. A preliminary assessment found evidence consistent with Fauresmith use, but Acheulian evidence was more equivocal. The preliminary findings need thorough substantiation and contextualization. Adopting Watts' (2010) descriptive methods, this will largely be done through examination of all the relevant collections to identify and characterize potential pigments, traces of utilization, and whether these are consistent with pigment use. It will be complemented by limited experimental work evaluating taphonomic processes on colour stability and whether corrosion of ground facets precludes inferring utilization. Field surveying will attempt to identify potential parent rocks, while limited chemical and mineralogical analyses will augment characterization and comparison of field and archaeological samples. Apart from evaluating existing claims, the study will provide a basis for testing predictions derived from the Female Cosmetic Coalitions model of the evolution of symbolic culture (Power 2009), regarding the timing of initial use, colour selection, and the timing of a predicted shift from irregular/localized use to regular and ubiquitous use.
Grillo, Katherine Mary, Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'Containing Life: Perspectives on Pastoralist Pottery in East Africa,' supervised by Dr. Fiona B. Marshall
KATHERINE M. GRILLO, then a student at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, was awarded funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'Containing Life: Perspectives on Pastoralist Pottery in East Africa,' supervised by Dr. Fiona B. Marshall. This project aims to provide archaeological insight into the complex relationships between mobile pastoralism and pottery production, use, and exchange. Food production in Africa followed a unique pathway: cattle pastoralism developed long before agriculture. Although pottery is very often associated with some degree of sedentism and agricultural production, little research has examined the ways in which the material cultures of mobile pastoral societies are represented in the archaeological record. Many archaeologists simply assume such groups are either incapable or unwilling to produce substantial amounts of pottery at all. However, this research has helped to describe and explain for the first time how ceramic production and use can be deeply economically, politically, and ideologically integrated into even highly mobile pastoralist societies. Ethnoarchaeological research was conducted among Samburu cattle pastoralists in northern Kenya, and collections-based research at the Nairobi National Museum provided a comparative case study in how the earliest pastoralists in East Africa utilized pottery as part of both their domestic and ceremonial lives. Ultimately this project will provide an empirically rigorous and ethnoarchaeologically grounded basis for interpreting pastoralist pottery found in archaeological contexts, advancing ongoing studies of the nature and spread of early food-producing communities throughout the Pastoral Neolithic of eastern Africa.
Kelly, Dr. Kenneth, U. of South Carolina, Columbia, SC; and Fall, Dr. Elhadj Ibrahima, University Nelson Mandala, Conakry, Guinea - To aid Landlords & Strangers: Entanglement, Archaeology & The 19th Century 'Illegal' Slave Trade On The Rio Pongo, Guinea.
Preliminary abstract: This proposal aims to conduct archaeological work at 3 19th c sites along the Rio Pongo in Guinea, to explore the cultural entanglement manifest in the interaction of European and American traders with local elites, and the impacts of the slave trade on local societies. Following the early 19th c. close of the slave trade, the 'illegal' slave trade shifted away from the long-standing entrepots of the Slave and Gold coasts to the Upper Guinea coast. Taking advantage of the traditional 'landlord/stranger' relationships of obligation, European and American traders established a series of trading 'factories' linked with local, small scale polities. These traders married into local elite families, creating trader elite lineages that controlled the trade in captives and commodities. We will: 1) document and examine discrete archaeological contexts; 2) map changes in social organization and economy through an analysis of material culture; and 3) situate these changes in light of the traditional 'landlord-stranger relationship' of elite obligation to host foreign traders (Mouser 1973). Success of this project requires collaboration which marries the methodological strengths of Kaba, trained in archaeology and a museum and heritage preservation professional and ethnographer since 1981, and Kelly, who has conducted archaeological research investigating the entanglements of the African Diaspora in Africa and Caribbean settings for over 25 years. This project has broad implications for anthropological research: 1) we document the dynamics of the 'illegal' trade for which the archival record is incomplete, and yet was an important part of the African Diaspora of the 19th c; 2) we contribute to current conversations about cultural identities, and the role material culture plays in the their expression; 3) we investigate the strategies employed in the negotiation of cultural entanglements; and 4) we contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the political economy of the slave trade and its impact on the Upper Guinea Coast.
Mitchell, Dr. Peter, U. of Oxford, UK - To aid workshop on 'Advancing Archaeology & Heritage in Lesotho: Lessons from the Metolong Dam Cultural Resource Management Project,' 2014, National U. of Lesotho, Roma, in collaboration with Dr. Rachel King
Preliminary abstract: The purpose of this workshop is to ensure that that the human capital developed and the lessons learned in the Metolong Cultural Resource Management (MCRM) Project will be of maximum benefit to future archaeological practice in Lesotho. Archaeology in Lesotho has always been carried out by a handful of foreign academics or under the auspices of mine- and dam-building projects. Consequently, much of it has been constrained by limited resources and developer agendas, and national heritage management infrastructure has remained under-developed. From 2008-2012, the MCRM Project conducted by archaeologists at Oxford University represented a sustained effort to address this state of affairs by combining archaeological research with capacity building. Ahead of the Metolong Dam, the MCRM Project launched comprehensive survey, excavation, rock art recording, and living heritage studies, in conjunction with a pioneering training programme for Basotho archaeologists. This workshop therefore has two aims: to discuss the outcomes of Metolong's heritage programme (especially related to past and future projects associated with dams in Lesotho) with an audience of Basotho, South African, and international heritage managers, government representatives, and academics; and to consider how to continue building capacity for Basotho archaeologists through future archaeological projects and regional professional collaborations. The workshop will propose guidelines for heritage management programmes connected with future dam-building operations in Lesotho, which are likely to be extensive, and for archaeological skills transfer programmes; these will be published online in open access format.
Prendergast, Mary Elizabeth, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Forager Variability on the Eve of Food Production: Kansyore Subsistence Strategies in Kenya and Tanzania,' supervised by Dr. Richard Henry Meadow
MARY E. PRENDERGAST, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded a grant in April 2006 to aid research on 'Forager Variability on the Eve of Food Production: Kansyore Subsistence Strategies in Kenya and Tanzania,' supervised by Dr. Richard Henry Meadow. This research involved excavation and/or analysis of seven archaeological sites in western Kenya and northern Tanzania, dated to 8,000-1,200 years ago. The common link between these sites, despite spanning a large geographic area and nearly seven millennia, is that they contain a pottery tradition called Kansyore. Kansyore ceramics have been postulated by others to be associated with 'delayed-return' hunter-gatherers, who should have differed markedly from 'immediate-return' hunter-gatherers known from modern ethnographies. The primary research goal was to test this hypothesis by using animal bone remains to understand diet. The surprising results show that, while the occupants of Kansyore sites in western Kenya were indeed specialized (and probably moderately delayed-return) fisher-hunters, they were also the first to adopt herding in this area. This contradicts assumptions that new ceramic traditions and domestic animals entered the region together. The northern Tanzanian sites produced a more complex picture, in which hunter-gatherers and herders appear to have lived side-by-side ca. 2000-1200 BP, using the hill and lakeshore landscapes differently. At two of these sites, ceramic traditions usually linked to herders are found associated with the remains of wild animals, suggesting that we must decouple conventional associations between material culture and economy.
Beyin, Dr. Amanuel Yosief, Stony Brook U., Stony Brook, NY - To aid research on 'Archaeological Exploration of Early Holocene Sites in West Lake Turkana'
DR. AMANUEL BEYIN, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, received funding in May 2010, to aid research on 'Archaeological Exploration of Early Holocene Sites in West Lake Turkana, Northern Kenya.' The fieldwork, which was carried out between October and November 2010, resulted in the discovery of ten sites on broad landscape contexts. The main cultural finds at the sites include lithic artifacts, pottery, and harpoon points. Faunal assemblages representing terrestrial and aquatic species (dominantly fish) were also found at the sites. Harpoon points and fish bones clearly suggest human consumption of aquatic resources. Out of the ten registered sites, two were test excavated. One of the excavated sites (Kokito) produced secured radiocarbon dates ranging 11,217-10,227 years before present. The discovery of sites dating to this time range from west Turkana suggests that the Turkana shorelines served as an important habitat for human survival in the early Holocene (12,000-7000 years ago). In documenting several new sites, the project has made an important contribution to the later prehistoric archaeology of the Turkana Basin, a region that had seen little prior research on this period. The Kokito date is the oldest secured radiometric date so far recorded for early Holocene sites in the entire Hasin.
Stump, Dr. Daryl, U. of York, York, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'The Long-term History of Indigenous Agriculture and Conservation Practices in Konso, Ethiopia'
Preliminary abstract: The twin concepts of sustainability and conservation that are so pivotal within current debates regarding economic development and biodiversity protection both contain an inherent temporal dimension, since both refer to the need to balance short-term gains with long-term resource maintenance. This point is not lost on proponents of resilience theory or advocates of development based on â??indigenous knowledgeâ??, some of whom have argued for the necessity of including an archaeological, historical or palaeoenvironmental component within development project design. Although this suggests a renewed contemporary relevance for several anthropological sub-disciplines, it also raises theoretical and methodological concerns regarding archaeological imperatives for â??heritageâ?? preservation, questions of local ownership, and long-standing debates about impartiality and political engagement. Moreover, it also prompts the fundamental question as to whether anthropology can truly claim to see and translate indigenous knowledge in the recent and distant past. The project outlined here is exploring these issues through a combination of archaeological, geoarchaeological, archival and interview-based research on the complex agro-ecological system at Konso, southwest Ethiopia; a system which is thought at present to have originally developed some 500 years ago, and has been described as comprising one of a select few 'lessons from the past' by a United Nations report on land conservation and rehabilitation in Africa (FAO 1990). The study aims to place the modern Konso agricultural system within its long-term context and to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the various ways in which anthropological research can engage with developmental and conservationist narratives.