Watts, Dr. Ian Douglas Somerled, Independent Scholar, Athens, Greece - To aid research on 'The Antiquity and Behavioural Implications of Pigment Use in the Northern Cape (South Africa),'
DR. IAN D.S. WATTS, an independent scholar in Athens, Greece, was awarded funding in April 2012 to aid research on 'The Antiquity and Behavioral Implications of Pigment Use in the Northern Cape (South Africa).' Earth pigment use is widely considered to date back approximately 300,000 years (~300 ka), but several poorly documented claims have been made for earlier use, from Fauresmith and Acheulean contexts in South Africa's Northern Cape. This project evaluated these claims. At Kathu Pan, scraped specularite-a glittery form of haematite-is associated with some of the earliest blades and points, at ~500 ka. This is currently the earliest compelling evidence for pigment use. Utilized specularite and red pigments were recovered from an undated Fauresmith context at the back of Wonderwerk Cave, where firelight would have been essential. Specularite was also confirmed at Canteen Kopje, associated with early Middle Stone Age or Fauresmith material, with dating estimates for overlying deposits indicating a minimum age of ~300 ka. Claims for Acheulean pigments at Kathu Pan, Kathu Townlands, and Wonderwerk could not be confirmed; indeed, there is good evidence of absence. Minimum distances to specularite outcrops for Wonderwerk and Canteen Kopje are 50km and 170km respectively, with no natural agencies capable of reducing these distances. These findings lend some support to predictions of Power's 'female cosmetic coalitions' model of the evolution of symbolic culture, while challenging predictions of Kuhn's 'honest, low-cost signals' hypothesis.
Schrire, Dr. Carmel, Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid 'Analysis and Interpretation of Archaeological Residues from Excavations at the Castle of Good Hope, Cape, South Africa'
DR. CARMEL SCHRIRE, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, was awarded funding in June 2003, to aid 'Analysis and Interpretation of Archaeological Residues from Excavations at the Castle of Good Hope, Cape, South Africa.' The Castle of Good Hope, in Cape Town South Africa, was built and occupied by the officials of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) 1666-1795 at their refreshment station for their European-Indies trade. Archaeological materials excavated between 1988-92 have been analyzed and reveal that all sites are secondary deposits showing a sequence of ceramics, glass and fauna. Imported and locally made ceramics reveal the class distinctions inherent in official and private trade practices. Analysis of faunal remains reveals dietary and stock management practices, that evolved in the course of the dispossession of indigenous pastoralists. They contrast markedly with Dutch customs in Europe. The absence of a dairy industry here, coupled with evidence of an Indonesian cuisine, reveals the very distinctive nature of the Creole society that formed at the Cape under VOC rule. The results of this work form a valuable comparative data base for studies of the material signature of European expansion in the 17th-18th centuries.
Wilmsen, Dr. Edwin Norman, U. of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa - To aid research on 'Pottery, Clays, and Lands: An Ethnoarchaeological Study of the Social Dimensions of Pottery in Botswana'
DR. EDWIN WILMSEN, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, was awarded a grant in April 2013 to aid research on 'Potters, Clays, and Lands: An Ethnoarchaeological Study of the Social Dimensions of Pottery in Botswana.' A potting clay mine and a nearby archaeological site at Manaledi village in the Tswapong Hills of Botswana were excavated. The work and family histories of current potters in this village, along with those of 41 potters in five other villages, were studied using ethnohistorical methods. Clay from the mine and sherds from the excavations and current potters were prepared as thin section slides and examined by petrography. Uniformity in trace minerals in the Manaledi clays and sherds confirm that clay from the mine has been used for potting exclusively at Manaledi for several generations. Manaledi ancestors, and the Hills themselves, are powerful guardians of the mines and their interests must be protected. Among these interests is procreation, and unlike at other villages, pregnant Manaledi women may work the mines and continue potting. Ancestry and pregnancy are bipolar attributes of community continuity bound together with tenurial rights in land through descent and are emphasized by village potters. Potters at all the villages studied are of varying age, status, religion, and skill levels; most are elderly women (40-79 years old) living in rural areas, but younger women are increasingly becoming apprentices to supplement their income, as demand for clay pots is expanding in both traditional and commercial markets.
McCoy, Jack T., Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid research on 'Ecological & Behavioral Implications of New Archaeological Occurrences from Koobi Fora, Kenya,' supervised by Dr. John W.K. Harris
JACK T. MCCOY, then a student at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, was awarded a grant in December 2005 to aid research on 'Ecological and Behavioral Implications of New Archaeological Occurrences from Koobi Fora, Kenya,' supervised by Dr. John W.K. Harris. Decades of investigations in Upper Burgi Member exposures (2.2 to 1.9 Ma) by many prominent paleoanthropologists have produced more than three dozen hominin body fossils but virtually no stone tools or other evidence of behavior has been reported. These exposed sediments preserve an archive of fossils that can reveal a great deal about the ecology, environment, and changing foraging behaviors of the earliest members of the genus Homo. Through the collection and analysis of the fossils of terrestrial vertebrates, it is possible to reconstruct ancient animal communities and offer hypotheses about the changing ecological niche that early human ancestors occupied. The addition of significant quantities of meat and marrow into the diet of early hominins is also visible in the fossil record. Cut marks and percussion marks are preserved on fossil bones and this evidence of hominin presence and behavior was collected during this field research along with the oldest stone tools yet discovered at Koobi Fora. This research makes it possible to construct testable hypotheses about hominin habitat and changing foraging behaviors at this critical juncture in human evolution.
Chazan, Dr. Michael, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'Archaeology of Wonderwerk Cave, Northern Cape Province, South Africa'
DR. MICHAEL CHAZAN, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, was awarded a grant in May 2007 to aid research on 'Archaeology of Wonderwerk Cave, Northern Cape Province, South Africa.' Research funded at Wonderwerk Cave (South Africa) has helped to establish it as one of the most important sites in Southern Africa. Research at the back of the cave (Excavation 6) indicates that over 0.180 Ma (the Fauresmith), hominins introduced into this dark locality (approximately 140m from the cave entrance) objects with special sensory properties. Intercalation of a 3D-laser scan of the cave interior and a survey of the overlying hillside confirms the absence of another entrance, implying purposeful occupation of Excavation 6, perhaps due to its special natural visual and acoustic qualities. This suggests that sensitivity to the sensory properties of a landscape and to materials, formed an integral element in the emergence of modern symbolic behavior. The age of the lowest in situ layers in the cave front (Excavation 1) has been confirmed as ca. 2.0 Ma, and represents the earliest evidence for intentional hominin cave use in the world. This finding was covered widely in the international media and has contributed to the candidacy of this site for World Heritage status.
Chazan, Michael. 2009. Laser Scanning for Conservation and Research of African Cultural Heritage Sites: The Case Study of Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science 36:1847-1856
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.
Russell, Dr. Mary T., U. of the Witwatersrand, Wits, South Africa; and Kiura, Dr. Purity W., Nat'l Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya - To aid collaborative research on 'The Archaeology of Namoratunga I, Lokori, Northern Kenya'
Preliminary Abstract: The site at Namoratunga I in Northern Kenya lends itself to interdisciplinary research as it has archaeological deposit, skeletal remains, rock engravings and possible connections to the Turkana community. Archaeologists working at the site in the 1970s argued that this was the site of a Eastern cushitic pastoralist people. Whilst noting that the Turkana recognised many of the engraved motifs as their own livestock brands, they dismissed a connection to the Turkana. The site may be Eastern Cushite, but the evidence provided at the time (including just one radiocarbon date) was too slight to be conclusive. This site has interesting implications for the spread of pastoralism in Eastern Africa and for the possible identification of a pastoralist rock art. In this project we re-visit the question of the authorship, antiquity and the meaning of the burials and engravings at Namoratunga. The shared motifs on modern skin and ancient rock are intriguing. This may be coincidence, but if not, the use of the same symbols on different surfaces and at different times is interesting in the terms of how, when and why meanings of material culture change or remain unchanged, are shared or not shared by different ethnic and sociopolitical goups.
Logan, Amanda Lee, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Practicing Change, Remembering Continuity: Incorporating Global Foods into Daily Routines in Banda, Ghana, AD 1000 - Present,' supervised by Dr. Carla M. Sinopoli
AMANDA L. LOGAN, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, was awarded funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Practicing Change, Remembering Continuity: Incorporating Global Foods into Daily Routines in Banda, Ghana (AD 1000 to Present),' supervised by Dr. Carla M. Sinopoli. This study examined how global pressures impacted daily life in West Africa through the lens of food and domestic architecture. Research focused on Banda, a region in west central Ghana that has seen sustained archaeological work that has documented shifts in political economy over the last 1000 years. Investigations focused on how people incorporated new crops into daily practice during each of these shifts, and whether or not dietary continuities and changes corresponded with changes in domestic architecture. People relied mostly on indigenous grains pearl millet and sorghum for much of the last millennium. Maize, a high yielding American crop, arrived quickly in Banda (c. 1660), but did not become a staple until the 1890s under conditions of political and economic duress associated with the shift to market economies and colonial rule. These data point to the political underpinnings of food insecurity, and suggest that in the Banda area such problems did not emerge until quite late. Shifts in house form and construction techniques also hint at shifts in standard of living as Banda moved from an important node in Niger trade to a periphery in the modern world system.