Manthi, Dr. Fredrick Kyalo, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya - To aid research on 'A Further Investigation for Microfauna in the Plio-Pleistocene Hominin Sites of Northwestern Kenya'
DR. FREDRICK KYALO MANTHI, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya, received funding in October 2009 to aid research on 'A Further Investigation for Microfauna in the Plio-Pleistocene Hominin Sites of Northwestern Kenya.' Mammalian remains have a number of features that make them important in ecological studies. In order to recover macro- and micromammalian fauna for reconstructing the environmental contexts in which Plio-Pleistocene hominins lived and also understand the evolutionary trajectories of mammalian species during this time period, a number of hominin sites in the Nachukui Formation, northwestern Kenya, were recently investigated. These sites include those that occur along the Lomekwi, Nachukui, and Nariokotome drainage systems. Work in these sites included surface surveys, and sieving of back-dirt sediments from earlier excavations so as to recover microfaunal remains that may have passed through the course sieves that were employed during theses excavations. Although some unidentifiable bone fragments of macrofauna were recovered from the sieving of the back-dirt sediments, no microfauna were recovered. The surface surveys resulted in the recovery of 245 fossil specimens, including a maxilla fragment that has been attributed to Homo sp. Another 59 fragmentary dental elements belonging to Elephantidae, Suidae, and Equidae were also collected for isotopic studies in order to contribute towards understanding the environmental contexts during the Plio-Pleistocene. Overall, elements attributable to Bovidae, Suidae, Equidae, and Cercopithecidae exhibited a higher representation relative to those of other taxa.
Negash, Dr. Agazi, Max Planck Institute, Leipzig, Germany - To aid research on 'Early Long Distance Raw Material Transport of Obsidian in Ethiopian Prehistory'
DR. AGAZI NEGASH, Max Planck Institute, Leipzig, Germany, was awarded a grant in November 2005 to aid research on 'Early Long Distance Raw Material Transport of Obsidian in Ethiopian Prehistory.' Researchers undertook fieldwork to investigate the early utilization of obsidian in Ethiopian prehistory with particular reference to the archaeological sites and geological sources in the Rift Valley. Among others, the objective of the fieldwork was to understand what is considered to be one of the key aspects of the beginnings of modern human behavior -- long distance movement or transport of raw material -- by instrumentally characterizing obsidian artifacts from the central Rift MSA sites whose artifacts are stored at the National Museum of Ethiopia and the geological sources where the raw material for these sites are supposed to have been obtained. Research focused on obsidian because it is an ideal raw material for tracing its movement from sources to archaeological sites due to, with few exceptions, its specific chemical composition with every eruption. More than 600 samples have now been characterized, of which 170 of them are artifacts from archaeological sites. Preliminary data analysis suggests that some of the sites contain obsidian artifacts whose geologic origin is hundreds of kilometers away, suggesting that they have significance to the understanding of the emergence of modern behavior.
Brooks, Dr. Alison S., George Washington U., Washington, DC - To aid conference on 'The Middle Stone Age of East Africa and Modern Human Origins,' National Museums of Kenya (Nairobi) and Ethiopia (Addis Ababa), 2005
'The Middle Stone Age of East Africa and Modern Human Origins'
July 17-24, 2005, National Museums of Kenya (Nairobi) and Ethiopia (Addis Ababa)
Organizer: Dr. Alison S. Brooks (George Washington University, Washington, DC)
With funding from the National Science Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation, a week-long conference on 'The Middle Stone Age of East Africa and Modern Human Origins,' was held in Nairobi and Addis Ababa, July 17-24, 2005. The goals of the conference were: to discuss the evolution of Homo sapiens from a behavioral perspective in locations where participants would examine and discuss the actual evidence of stone tools, faunal remains and fossils; to visit a representative sample of Middle Stone Age archaeological sites to explore some of the issues of geological context, dating and preservation that are particular to this region; to create a regional network of scholars working on these problems in eastern Africa; to raise awareness of the importance of the study of modern human origins among officials and museum personnel in regions where the earliest human ancestors have received most of the attention and funding; and to promote the development of African scientists and African scientific organizations by holding the meeting in two African countries. The conference realized these goals through participant interaction over eight days of discussions, papers, field trips and examination of museum collections of both fossils and artifacts that had been laid out for exhibit in the two museums. In addition to meetings between East African scholars and museum officials, an African-led regional scientific organization, the East African Association for Prehistory and Palaeoanthropology, was launched at the meeting. The Wenner-Gren financing was especially important in supporting the participation of African scholars.
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.
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.
Willoughby, Dr. Pamela Rae, U. of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada - To aid research on 'The Origins of Behavioral Modernity in Southern Tanzania'
DR. PAMELA R. WILLOUGHBY, University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada, received funding in 2008 to aid research on 'The Origins of Behavioral Modernity in Southern Tanzania.' Our species, Homo sapiens, evolved in Africa by the beginning of the Middle Stone Age (MSA), around 200,000 years ago and subsequently spread into Eurasia after 40,000 years ago. By this time they are supposed to have developed complex technology, referred to as the Later Stone Age (LSA) or Upper Palaeolithic. It is hard to examine the MSA to LSA transition in Africa, as it is associated with major climate changes and near-extinction of our founders. However, initial research in rockshelters in the Iringa Region of southern Tanzania demonstrated that this area was a focus of settlement throughout both periods. In the 2008 field season, an archaeological survey and more test excavations were carried out. The survey was to determine where people obtained stone for tool manufacture, and how this changed over time. Only LSA and more recent sources were discovered, supporting the idea that MSA people obtained raw materials from far away. Test excavations carried out on the slopes surrounding the Magubike rockshelter showed that there were few intact cultural deposits. But a new 2.5 metre deep sequence with all cultural periods from the MSA onwards was uncovered directly below the main shelter.
Miller, Jennifer Midori and Pamela Rae Willoughby. 2014. Radiometically Date Ostrich Egshell Beads from the Middle and Later Stone Age of Magubike Rockshelter, Southern Tanzania. Journal of Human Evolution 74:118-122.
Bittner, Katie M., and Pamel R. Willoughby. 2012. Working with Local Communities and Managing Cultural Heritage in Iringa Region, Tanzania. The SAA Archaeological Record 12(4):36-39.