Villa, Dr. Paola, U. of Colorado Museum, Boulder, CO - To aid research on 'Experimental Replication and Functional Analysis of Still Bay Points from Blombos Cave (South Africa)'
DR. PAOLA VILLA, University of Colorado Museum, Boulder, Colorado, received a grant in October 2008, to aid research on 'Experimental Replication and Functional Analysis of Still Bay Points from Blombos Cave (South Africa).' The main goal of the project was to understand the level of skill in manufacture and use of bifacial points recovered from the Middle Stone Age (c. 75 ka) Still Bay levels at Blombos Cave in South Africa. Experimental knapping and detailed observation of the technical features of the Blombos and experimental points and flakes, using a Leica Multifocus microscope, showed that the Blombos craftsmen used the pressure flaking technique during the final shaping of points made on heat-treated silcrete. Pressure flaking is a technique used by prehistoric knappers to shape stone artifacts by exerting a pressure with a pointed tool near the edge of a worked piece. Application of this innovative technique allowed for a high degree of control during the detachment of individual flakes resulting in thinner, narrower and sharper tips on bifacial points. The earliest previously recorded evidence of pressure flaking comes from the c. 20 ka Solutrean industry of Western Europe. The evidence from Blombos is 55 ka earlier. This is a very significant find. Bifacial technology based on intensive thinning and pressure retouch was a major innovation which allowed Still Bay craftsmen to produce thin and regular foliate points to be used as more effective spear heads for hunting. This technology may have been first invented and used sporadically in Africa before its later widespread adoption in other continents. The result of this work has been published in Science.
Mourre, Vincent, Paola Villa, Christopher S. Henshilwood, 2010. Early Use of Pressure Flaking on Lithic Artifacts at Blombos Cave, South Africa. Science 339: 659-662.
Lyons, Dr. Diane E., U. of Calgary, Calgary, Canada - To aid research on 'Slehleka Pottery Project'
Preliminary abstract: This study investigates material signatures of caste identities of Slehleka market potters in Tigray State in northern highland Ethiopia. Artisan marginalization is found in many societies across sub-Saharan Africa but material means to investigate its history are needed. This study builds upon two previous studies of Tigray's marginalized potters in central and eastern Tigray. Importantly Slehleka potters have a caste identity, which the other two communities did not, and it is anticipated that the study will find important variability in the material and spatial expression of marginalized identities. An important aspect of the study is determining the technological style of the Slehleka potters using the chaine operatoire approach. Their technological style will be compared with those of the other two potter communities to show their relationships. Ultimately the study will provide a full regional perspective of Tigray's contemporary pottery traditions, the material means to investigate the history of marginalized craft practices in Tigray and elsewhere in Africa, and it contributes to our understanding of how marginalized identities and social inequities are materially constituted in peasant communities.
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.
Ranhorn, Kathryn L., George Washington U., Washington, DC - To aid research on 'Late Pleistocene Lithic Technology in Eastern Africa and the Emergence of Modern Humans,' supervised by Dr. Alison S. Brooks
Preliminary abstract: The Middle Stone Age is associated with the first appearance of modern humans in Africa (McDougall et al 2005). The archaeological record of South Africa suggests the appearance of successive suites of behavior that were constrained temporally and spatially (Marean 2010; Wurz 2013). However it is unclear if these lithic trends represent social networking among MSA populations (d'Errico and Banks 2013) or could be the result of other factors like raw material or reduction intensity. Furthermore, the extent to which such patterning is unique to South Africa or is a general feature of Homo sapiens is unclear. To test whether early modern human populations were socially networked in a broader context it is necessary to consider the Late Pleistocene archaeological record from other regions in Africa in a way that directly measures temporal and spatial behavioral trends. This dissertation will test for social networking of MSA populations by quantitatively measuring patterns of lithic technological change in eastern Africa from 150-50 ka at the regional, sub-regional, and sub-basinal scale, developing innovative methods in lithic analysis and a chrono-stratigraphic framework within a single MSA paleolandscape in the Turkana Basin. Three-dimensional photogrammetric modeling and middle range experiments in information transfer afford a quantifiable investigation of lithic trends. By incorporating both open air and rock shelter localities, spanning highland escarpments (Mt. Eburru) and low elevation lake basins (East Turkana), this study will result in a comprehensive understanding of hominin behavior across multiple landscapes in the MSA and a clearer understanding of the role of cultural transmission in early modern human populations.
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.
Falgueres, Dr. Christophe, Museum National D'histoire Naturelle, Paris, France - To aid conference on 'Modern Man in Northern Africa: Chronology, Behavior and Cultural Heritage,' 2015, Rabat, Morocco, in collaboration with Dr. Mohamed El Hajraoui
Preliminary abstract: The project aims in meeting several searchers coming from different labs from Canada, France, Morocco, Italy and to enlarge to other labs from Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria. The main scopes are dedicated to geochronology, caracterisation methods applied to global heritage since the origin of Modern humans to the historic period in Maghreb. Two main subjects will be discussed :1.) Chronology and behavior of Modern Man since its origins about 130 000 years in Maghreb area; and 2) Caracterisation of pigments and colorants using different non invasive and portable methods in the frame of cultural heritage.The goals are:to establish the state of the art of the research in Morocco and discuss the results obtained since the last 5 years in Morocco; to reinforce the dialog between teams who are working in Morocco and to enlarge collaborations to other countries such as Algeria, Tunisia and Senegal in order to reconstruct the history of Modern Man in Northern Africa and his behavior from a cultural point of view. In 2010, a first meeting was organized by UQAM at Montreal. This previous colloquium allowed a good synergy between labs and inititated several collaborations in which phd students were involved. In 2013, a new edition was organized by MNHN-CNRS, Paris, involving Moroccan labs. In 2015, the next conference in Rabat is intended to consolidate these collaborations and initiate new prospectives for research and training.
Walshaw, Dr. Sarah Catherine, Simon Fraser U., Burnaby, Canada - To aid research on 'Food Production Viewed from the Fields: Contributions from Swahili Ethnoarchaeology on Pemba Island, Tanzania'
DR. SARAH C. WALSHAW, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada, received a grant in May 2007 to aid research on 'Food Production Viewed from the Fields: Contributions from Swahili Ethnoarchaeology on Pemba Island, Tanzania.' Archaeological plant assemblages from several communities on Pemba Island, Tanzania, contain significant amounts of grain and chaff, suggesting that rice and pearl millet were stored in a largely unprocessed form. Ethnoarchaeological research was undertaken among farming communities on Pemba Island, where rice, sorghum, and pearl millet are farmed using non-mechanized techniques (such as hand-harvesting) to model the small-scale tropical farming systems of the Swahili. Observation of, and participation in, farming on Pemba Island helped explain several patterns seen archaeologically. First, hand harvesting eliminated weeds in the field and may be implicated in the infrequency of weed seeds in ancient houses and middens. Second, grains for food and seed were stored in the house to permit monitoring of amount and condition. Third, grains were reportedly stored in their husks to reduce loss from microbial and insect infestation, pest predation, and human over-use and theft. Labor constraints also posed significant pressures in this household-based agricultural economy, leading harvesters to spread the arduous tasks of processing throughout the year -- small amounts of grain were processed for each day's meal as required. This study demonstrates some of the agricultural and social motives for household-based agricultural practices, and provides a model for interpreting archaeobotanical patterns evident in ancient small-scale rice and millet farming systems.
Walshaw, Sarah, 2010. Converting to rice: urbanization, Islamization and crops on Pemba Island, Tanzania, AD 700-1500. World Archaeology 42:(1) 137-154.