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.
Prendergast, Dr. Mary E., St. Louis U., Madrid, Spain - To aid research and writing on 'Foraging and Food Producing Mosaics in Holocene Eastern Africa' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Preliminary abstract: This project will produce four articles addressing three questions, united by their focus on diverse mosaics of foragers and food producers in the East African past, by their reliance on zooarchaeological data, and by their applicability to theories on forager variation, the spread of food production and 'frontiers'. The first article centers on Lake Victoria during the Later Stone Age, drawing on fauna, material culture and ethnographic analogy to show that 'Kansyore' foragers had reduced mobility and concepts of ownership, which mediated partial adoption of herding during the Pastoral Neolithic (PN) era. The next two articles, based on PN sites in Tanzania, demonstrate that specialized pastoralism spread faster and more successfully than previously thought, calling for examination of herder social networks, and reassessments of forager-herder relations in 'frontiers.' My final article shifts to the 'Swahili coast,' where numerous sites were excavated to assess evidence for African roles in the Indian Ocean interaction sphere. A large faunal database illustrates the complex mosaics on the coast during the last two millennia. These mosaics may explain the paucity of early evidence for trade, and shed light on roles of foragers in exchange systems. This research problematizes distinctions between 'Stone Age' and 'Iron Age.'
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.
Mackay, Alex, Brian A. Stewart, and Brian M. Chase. 2014. Coalescence and Fragmentation in the Late Pleistocene Archaeology of Southernmost Africa. Journal of Human Evolution 72:26-51.
Engmann, Dr. Rachel Ama Asaa, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA - To aid research on ''Slavers in the Family': The Archaeology of the Slaver in Eighteenth Century Gold Coast'
Preliminary abstract: 'Slavers In the Family': The Archaeology of the Slaver in the Eighteenth Century Gold Coast is a study of Christiansborg Castle, a seventeenth century European colonial trading castle. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the castle is also a former Danish and British colonial seat of government administration, and until recently, the Office of the President of the Republic of Ghana. This research employs monuments, material culture and museum narratives to study race, ethnicity, class, gender, power and social inequality, alongside memory and amnesia, and their effects on nation building, development and heritage. In a wider context, this research addresses the visual, material and extra-discursive forms of the triple legacies of the slave trade, colonialism and independence, as a strategy for understanding the complexities of the politics of the past in the present.
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.
Janzen, Anneke, U. of California, Santa Cruz, CA - To aid research on 'Mobility and Herd Management among Early Pastoralists in East Africa,' supervised by Dr. Diane Gifford-Gonzalez
ANNEKE JANZEN, then a graduate student at University of California, Santa Cruz, California, was granted funds in October 2012 to aid research on 'Mobility and Herd Management among Early Pastoralists in East Africa,' supervised by Dr. Diane Gifford-Gonzalez. Cattle-based pastoralism emerged in Kenya around 3000 years ago and has adapted with changes in the social and ecological landscape to this day. Ethnographic research documented significant changes in herding strategies among pastoral groups throughout colonial and post-colonial periods. Stable isotope analysis elucidates whether mobility was crucial in maintaining herds before agricultural populations entered in the region. Sequential sampling of livestock tooth enamel presents an isotopic record of diet during tooth formation, and reflects individual animals' movements across the landscape. Analyses were done on teeth of modern livestock with known life histories to confirm the usefulness of these methods for East African archaeological dentitions. Livestock teeth from Savanna Pastoral Neolithic sites in the Central Rift Valley and neighboring plains of Kenya were then analyzed for their strontium stable isotope composition, which tracks movements across geologically distinct environments. Monitoring such movements across a landscape required establishing a baseline strontium isotope map of the region. Animals with small home ranges were collected throughout the study area, yielding strontium signatures for local environments. Results show low mobility among early pastoralists, indicating that the more dynamic mobility patterns seen among East African pastoralists today developed relatively recently.
Lyons, Dr. Diane Elaine, U. of Calgary, Calgary, Canada - To aid research on 'The Yeha Pottery Project'
DR. DIANE E. LYONS, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada, was awarded a grant in October 2011 to aid research on 'The Yeha Pottery Project.' Material signatures of marginalized identities of female market potters living near Yeha in central Tigray, northern highland Ethiopia. were investigated. The study builds upon a previous study of market potters in eastern Tigray and provides a regional comparison. In Tigray and other societies across sub-Saharan Africa, different types of artisans are marginalized. The antiquity of these practices is unknown, but such practices are implicated in the construction of social complexity. Ethnoarchaeological field research determined the Yeha area potters' technological style, which is a material identity for each potter community. Comparison of the two studies shows that Tigray's central and eastern potters produce similar pottery types, but they use distinct technological styles. INAA analysis of pottery samples demonstrates distinct chemical signatures for the pottery from the two regions. Technological styles and INAA analyses can be used to track the history and interaction of these potter communities in the ancient past. Both regions express some spatial marginalization of potter communities, and in both contexts potters experience verbal insults, greater poverty than their farmer neighbors, and sometimes violence in clay mining extraction. When potters are compared with more stigmatized blacksmiths, a landscape of socially meaningful places associated with these stigmatizing practices emerges.
Murray, Shawn S., U. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI - To aid research on 'African-Rice Domestication and the Transition to Agriculture in the Middle Niger Delta, Mali,' supervised by Dr. T. Douglas Price
SHAWN S. MURRAY, while a student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin, received a grant in June 2001 to aid research on African rice domestication and the transition to agriculture at the site of Dia in the middle Niger Delta, Mali, under the supervision of Dr. T. Douglas Price. Because African rice grains (Oryza glaberrima) had been found at Dia without their diagnostic hulls, Murray's goal was to develop new methods of identifying the naked rice grains as either wild or domestic species. Research showed that the dimensions of African rice species (length, width, thickness) overlapped extensively but that ratios of these dimensions could discriminate between species. Interestingly, ratios for the ancient grains closely resembled those for the modem domestic species, overlapping little with the wild taxa. These results suggested that domesticated rice was present from Dia's earliest occupation (800-500 B.C.E.) and that farming in this region was older than previously thought. It is possible that domesticated African rice entered the upper delta from elsewhere, perhaps farther north or west.