Sahnouni, Dr. Mohamed, Stone Age Institute, Gosport, IN - To aid research on 'Investigations into the Pliocene Archaeology of Ain Boucherit, Northeastern Algeria'
DR. MOHAMED SAHNOUNI, Stone Age Institute, Gosport, Indiana, received a grant in April 2008 to aid research on 'Investigations into the Pliocene Archaeology of Ain Boucherit, Northeastern Algeria.' Archaeological investigations were carried out to examine the possibility of whether early hominins inhabited North Africa prior to 2.0 million years ago. The investigations consisted of surveying the research area, studying the stratigraphy and sampling for dating, excavating the late Pliocene fossil/stone artifact bearing stratum, and analyzing the excavated archaeological materials. The excavations yielded relatively rich stone tool and faunal assemblages. The stone tools are Oldowan and include core-forms, whole flakes, and fragments. The presence of an Equus bone bearing a series of cut-marks indicates the causal link between the stone tools and the faunal remains. Paleomagnetic and cosmogenic nuclides studies are underway but faunal taxa of biochronological interest indicate a late Pliocene age that can be estimated between 1.95 and 2.32 Ma. Thus, Ain Boucherit documents the evidence of the earliest human occupation in North Africa, and can help our understanding of the larger picture of early hominin dispersal out of Africa.
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.
Cunningham, Jerimy J., McGill U., Montreal, Canada - To aid research on 'Ceramic Consumption in the Inland Niger Delta: An Ethnoarchaeological Study,' supervised by Dr. Bruce G. Trigger
JERIMY J. CUNNINGHAM, while a student a McGill University in Montreal, Canada, received an award in February 2002 to aid ethnoarchaeological research on ceramic consumption in the inland Niger delta of Mali, under the supervision of Dr. Bruce G. Trigger. Cunningham investigated the exchange of ceramic vessels in the Djenne region both as a function of economic processes and as a reflection of consumption. In the first phase of the project, 124 potters located within a thirty-kilometer radius of the town of Djenne were interviewed about the economic and social contexts of their production and marketing strategies. In the second phase, one hundred consumer households were randomly selected from a region twenty kilometers in radius, centered on Djenne. The primary buyers of ceramic, plastic, aluminum, and enameled vessels were interviewed regarding their 'tastes' for specific objects, and a census was taken of all household containers. Census data were recorded for 1,829 vessels, including type of vessel, where it was purchased, the identity of the purchaser, the vessel's age, the type of exchange, and the object's location in the house. Cunningham's findings underscored the complex processes that affected the movement of household vessels on a regional scale. In particular, the data showed the complex ways in which ceramic production and marketing, and women's consumption of ceramic, plastic, aluminum, and enameled containers, related to gendered systems of exploitation among the region's patrilineal households.
Cunningham, Jerimy J. 2003. Rethinking Style in Archaeology' pp. in Essential Tensions in Archaeological Method and Theory (Eds. Todd L. VanPool and Christine S. VanPool), University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.
Cunningham, Jerimy, J. 2003. Transcending the ?Obnoxious Spectator?: A Case for Prossesual Pluralism in Ethnoarchaeology. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 22:389-410.
Cunningham, Jerimy J., 2009. Pots and Political Economy: Enamel-Wealth, Gender, and Patriarchy in Mali. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 15(2):276-294.
Zipkin, Andrew Michael, George Washington U., Washington, DC - To aid research on 'Material Symbolism and Ochre Use in Middle Stone Age East-Central Africa,' supervised by Dr. Alison S. Brooks
Preliminary abstract: The discovery of ochre at African Middle Stone Age sites has been widely interpreted as relating to the onset of modern human symbolic behavior. Dependence on symbolism to communicate information and strengthen group identities is an essential attribute of our species. Although significant quantities of modified ochre have been recovered which date to before the oldest Homo sapiens fossils (~195,000 years ago), the first unambiguous evidence of symbolism does not appear until 80-105 thousand years ago. An alternate hypothesis holds that ochre's first function was technological rather than symbolic. This project will ask the research question, 'When routine human acquisition of ochreous minerals began during the Middle Stone age, was this activity motivated primarily by symbolic or technological considerations?' We will test 5 hypotheses addressing whether: Specific sources of ochre in Africa can be distinguished from one another by trace element composition, MSA ochre artifacts can be matched to specific sources, MSA ochre procurement was mediated by color preferences, ochre was heat-treated to induce color transformations, and if ochre improves the adhesive efficacy of resin glues. This research will be carried out at Memorial University of Newfoundland, The George Washington University, Olorgesailie, Kenya; Karonga, Malawi; and Twin Rivers, Zambia.
Hildebrand, Dr. Elisabeth A., Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'The Origins of Enset Cultivation: Archaeological Excavations in Southwest Ethiopia,'
DR. ELISABETH ANNE HILDEBRAND, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, received funding in October 2004 to investigate 'The Origins of Enset Cultivation: Archaeological Excavations in Southwest Ethiopia.' From 2004-2006, Hildebrand and colleagues did seven months of survey and excavation of rockshelters in Kafa. Survey documented 25 rockshelters, nine of which were subjected to test excavations. Two rockshelters, Kumali and Koka, have intact sediments of substantial depth with artifacts throughout. Koka, a lowland shelter, has moderate amounts of non-obsidian lithics, bone, ceramics, and plant remains. Kumali, a cavity in a highland basalt escarpment, has abundant ceramics and obsidian microliths; well-preserved bone, leather, and shell; and dense concentrations of desiccated macrobotanical remains and dung. Analyses are yielding the first cultural chronology for southwest Ethiopia, and important information about plant and animal subsistence intensification during the Holocene. Project activities included a field school for Addis Ababa University archaeology students, and coring of Kafa swamps and ponds to obtain paleoenvironmental data. Local modern vegetation studies funded through this grant, conducted by Addis Ababa University botany MA students, will provide a more secure foundation for interpretation of paleoenvironmental and macrobotanical data.
Manthi, Dr. Fredrick Kyalo, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya - To aid engaged activities on 'Public Engagement in Palaeontological Investigations of the Plio-Pleistocene Nachukui Formation, Northern Kenya,' 2013, Turkana County, Kenya
DR. FREDRICK MANTHI, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya, received an Engaged Anthropology Grant in August 2012 to aid 'Public Engagement in Palaeontological Investigations of the Plio-Pleistocene Nachukui Formation, Northern Kenya.' The Lake Turkana Basin in northern Kenya has contributed significantly to understanding the evolution of human and non-human species during the Plio-Pleistocene. Although prehistory research has been carried-out in the Basin for over 50 years, a large number of the local people are not aware of the scientific importance of the findings from this research. In fact, many of the local people believe that researchers make a lot of money from fossils and artifacts. In the last six years, the grantee has directed palaeontological investigations in the Lake Turkana Basin, aided in part with funding from Wenner-Gren. In the course of these expeditions, it became evident that there was need for more engagement between research groups and the local people. Funding went to organize an outreach program in February 2013 that entailed holding public meetings, visits to schools and discussions with local administrators, which were all centered on the importance of prehistory research in understanding the past and (it is hoped) helped lay the foundation for future engagements advancing research in the Turkana Basin.
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.