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.
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.
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.
Spiers, Samuel R., Syracuse U., Syracuse, NY - To aid research on 'The Historical Archaeology of the Eguafo Polity: Landscapes of Production and Consumption AD 1000-1900,' supervised by Dr. Christopher R. DeCorse
SAMUEL R. SPIERS, while a student at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, received a grant in January 2001 to aid research on the historical archaeology of the Eguafo polity of coastal Ghana, under the supervision of Dr. Christopher R. DeCorse. The goal of Spiers's twenty months of fieldwork was to document changes in settlement patterns and artifact inventories at the site of Eguafo, capital of the kingdom of Eguafo, 1000-1900 C.E. The work including survey, excavation, cataloguing, and archival research and spanned the thousand years of the site's continuous occupation. Preliminary results suggested two main occupation phases: an early phase marked by small, defensive settlements, limited long-distance trade, and limited differentiation in the artifact inventory and a second phase, from roughly the seventeenth century onward, when settlement size increased, long-distance trade goods became more plentiful, and artifact types became increasingly varied. Such transformations in the settlement pattern seemed to have occurred at the height of Eguafo's involvement in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It was intended that the completed research would add to the understanding of the archaeological record of coastal Ghana and of African sociopolitical complexity. Further, the findings were to be made available to the people of Eguafo to assist them in tourism development projects.
Egeland, Dr. Charles Peter, U. of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC - To aid research on 'Geochemical and Physical Characterization of Lithic Raw Materials in the Olduvai Basin, Tanzania'
DR. CHARLES P. EGELAND, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, North Carolina, was awarded funding in April 2015 to aid research on 'Geochemical and Physical Characterization of Lithic Raw Materials in the Olduvai Basin, Tanaznia.' The study of raw materials has traditionally been deeply embedded in analyses of the Early Stone Age (ESA), and the impact of source rock characteristics on early hominin ranging behavior and technological variation is now widely acknowledged. Northern Tanzania's Olduvai Basin is home to dozens of ESA sites and a great diversity of lithic raw material sources. In order to better chacaterize ESA technologial behavior, this study collected samples from over 200 rock specimens from seven potential raw material sources in the Olduvai Basin to analyze their geochemical (via x-ray fluorescence) and physical (via standard hardness tests) properties. These data provide information on, respectively, the chemical signature and tool suitability of rock sources. Preliminary results indicate that quantitative estimates of hardness differ significantly between major rock types, which have important implications for raw material choice during the ESA.
Veall, Margaret-Ashley, U. of Oxford, Oxford, UK - To aid research on ''Stuck Like Glue': Assessing Variability in Hafting Adhesives in the Southern African Later Stone Age,' supervised by Dr. Peter Mitchell
Preliminary abstract: Variations in design and function of any tool represent varying strategies employed by humans to exist within a landscape. While we see some degree of emphasis placed on lithic procurement, and the economic decisions that may influence the application of one technological strategy over another, we have yet to see the application of this branch of Optimal Foraging Theory to the organic components of tool technologies. In-depth biomolecular analysis of hafting adhesives - the glue of composite tools - has yet to be used to investigate how members of our species existed within dynamic environments and exploited its resources. In southern Africa, the characterisation of hafting adhesives focused primarily on the Middle Stone Age (MSA) and contributed to the discovery of modern humans' 'firsts' particularly those behavioural proxies related to complex cognition. However, these studies represent limited, 'one-of' cases, and cannot adequately address the underlying cause of adhesive resource selection. Well-preserved Later Stone Age (LSA) assemblages, present a unique opportunity in filling in a research void and re-evaluating the economic decision-making in raw material procurement from an organic perspective. This doctoral project utilises microscopy and molecular analysis in tandem to identify the adhesive composition of hafted technologies from stratified LSA sites located in several ecological biomes as a means to determine whether hafting adhesives were variable or stable, spatially, temporally, and geographically, across the last 20, 000 years. This study will attempt to broaden our understanding of the origins and nature of hafting adhesives in the LSA, as well as the relationship between adhesives, tool manufacture, and the ecology of a surrounding region.
Hlubik, Sarah Kathleen, Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid research on 'Finding Prometheus: A Multi-pronged Approach to the Search for Fire in the Early Pleistocene at FxJj20 AB, Koobi Fora, Kenya,' supervised by Dr. Craig Feibel
Preliminary abstract: The search for the first use of fire in the archaeological record has been a topic of contention since the discovery of reddened consolidated sediments at the sites of FxJj20 East and FxJj20 Main at Koobi Fora, Kenya in 1973. Since then work at other contemporaneous sites in East and South Africa have added to the debate over the earliest use of fire by human ancestors, but none have unequivocally answered the question of whether ancient human ancestors controlled fire. Evidence for fire in the region is abundant in the natural record, but association of that fire with human behavior, particularly in open-air settings, has been problematic. The current study proposes to combine chemical, spectral, spatial and magnetic analysis with new excavations at site FxJj20 AB and experimental work to determine whether a signal of fire is present on the site and whether or not it can be associated with human activity. The project will conduct excavation at the FxJj20 AB site, as well as conduct experiments in the signature of fire on open landscapes. During excavation, all cultural material will be collected, as well as samples for micromorphology, Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), and magnetic intensity. Similar samples will be collected for experiments to create a reference collection of the signature of fire on an open arid landscape and how that signature degrades over time. This project will contribute a significant amount of knowledge to the study of the origins of fire.
Lyons, Dr. Diane Elaine, U. of Calgary, Calgary, Canada - To aid research on 'Edagahamus Potters and the Identity of Stigma'
DR. DIANE E. LYONS, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada, was awarded a grant in October 2008, to aid research on 'Edagahamus Potters and the Identity of Stigma.' In highland Ethiopia, and in many societies in sub-Saharan Africa, artisans are socially marginalized because they are believed to possess dangerous occult powers or because their craft diminishes their social worth. Despite the importance of these practices to the development of social complexity, the history of these practices in Africa is not well understood, partly because the material expression of stigmatized identities are not documented in ways that can be studied by archaeologists. This study investigates the material expressions of the stigmatized identities of female market potters in Tigray State near the market town of Edagahamus in highland Ethiopia. These women experience insults, violence, and discrimination at different levels of political decision-making even though their pots are essential for daily cooking on rural farms. These social practices of stigma are expressed spatially and materially at the household, community, and regional level. In addition, the study determined material ways to identify the Edagahamus pottery-making community from their production practices and from the analyses of material samples of pots, clay, and temper that will provide a physical and chemical 'fingerprint' for archaeologists to study their history in the past.
Muia, Mulu, U. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL - To aid research on 'Changes in Lithic Technology and Origin of Modern Human Behavior in Ntuka, Southwest Kenya,' supervised by Dr. Stanley H. Ambrose
MULU MUIA, then a student at the University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, was awarded funding in February 2005 to aid research on 'Changes in Lithic Technology and Origin of Modern Human Behavior in Ntuka, Southwest Kenya,' supervised by Dr. Stanley H. Ambrose. The grant was used: 1) to expand excavations at two sites (GvJh11 and GvJh12) that had been excavated extensively previously, but whose sample size was small; and 2) to carry out new excavations at three other sites (GvJh21, GvJh78 and GvJh81) that had been test excavated. Artifacts recovered were made mostly of obsidian, lava and cherts. Faunal remains were limited mostly to teeth. Analysis of the artifacts sought to understand the process of technological change from the Middle Stone Age (MSA) to the Later Stone Age (LSA). The first step in the analysis focused on recording the various tool classes (the typology) and the raw materials so that the diversity of both in the MSA and LSA can be quantified. To understand raw material procurement strategies, all pieces were examined for cortex. Metric dimensions (length, width, and thickness) for all finished tools were recorded using electronic calipers. Flakes were examined for platform preparation by recording the presence or absence of facets. Where facets were present, they were counted. Platform width, thickness, and angle were recorded to identify flaking techniques.
Beyin, Amanuel Yosief, State U. of New York, Stony Brook, NY - To aid 'Paleolithic Investigation on the Red Sea Coast of Eritrea,' supervised by Dr. John J. Shea
Beyin, Amanuel. 2009. Late Stone Age Shell Middens on the Red Coast of Eritrea. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology 4:108-124.
Beyin, Amanuel. 2010. Use-wear analysis of obsidian artifacts from Later Stone Age shell midden sites on the Red Sea Coast of Eritrea, with experimental results. Journal of Archaeological Science 37: 1543-1556.