Smith, Abigail Chipps, Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'Mobility and Urbanism: The Place of Mobile Pastoralists in Mali's Iron Age Cities,' supervised by Dr. Fiona B. Marshall
ABIGAIL C. SMITH, then a student at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, was awarded funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Mobility and Urbanism: The Place of Mobile Pastoralists in Mali's Iron Age Cities,' supervised by Dr. Fiona B. Marshall. This project investigates the relationship between mobile pastoral groups and urban populations in the past, focusing on the site of Jenné-jeno and its surrounding landscape. The project draws on four months of extensive excavation at two archaeological sites, Tato à Sanouna and Thiel, near the modern town of Djenné in Mali's Inland Niger Delta. Multiple lines of evidence are used to identify past modes of life in these sites and at the well-known ancient city of Jenné-jeno between about 200 to 1500 CE, particularly the interrelationship between sedentary urbanism, subsistence specialization, and mobile pastoralism. As the first large-scale excavation of smaller, outlying sites in the area, this project increases our understanding of the extent and variability of local human settlement. Additionally, the project's focus on subsistence and specialization provides empirical data about the trajectories of West African pastoralism and agriculture. This information enables discussion of the role of pastoral populations in the Jenné-jeno urban system and impacts our understanding of Jenné-jeno's trade relationships and political organization. Given the unique trajectories of African food production when compared to other world areas, this project is an important contribution to our understanding of variability in global pastoral strategies and mobile-sedentary interactions.
Chirikure, Dr. Shadreck, U. of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa - To aid 'Biennial Conference of Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA),' 2015, U. of Zimbabwe, in collaboration with Dr. Plan Nyabezi
Preliminary abstract: The biennial Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA) Conference brings together, after every two years, a vibrant community of professional archaeologists and allied specialists from Southern Africa as well as international scholars whose research interests lie in the region. The main aim of the conference is to provide these professionals with an international platform to share new knowledge, network and seek collaboration in the fields of archaeology and archaeological heritage management. This provides a solid platform for the transmission of new techniques, new theories and field approaches to ensure that southern African archaeology is locally and globally relevant. The theme of ASAPA 2015 is promoting inter-disciplinary research. This is highly significant given that there are globally significant research themes such as the origins of modern human behaviour, demography, isotopes and materials analysis that have failed to take off in southern Africa, with the exception of South Africa. Therefore, interdisciplinary research provides an unrivalled opportunity to develop various research areas in our region. The conference provides a solid pedestal for students to net work with professionals to forge lifelong networks. The conference attracts other stakeholders such as members of communities that live around archaeological sites, traditional custodians, policy makers and museum curators. It provides an opportunity for dialogue in theory and practice between different archaeological practioners. The conference involves oral and poster presentations as well as roundtable discussions on topical issues in archaeological theory and practice. The scope of the conference covers the full span of Southern African archaeology, from the earliest hominids to the historical period. Topics covered include palaeoanthropology, palaeo-environments and climate change, Stone Age, farming communities, ethnoarchaeology among others reflecting the multi-disciplinary nature of archaeology.
Tsheboeng, Dr. Alfred, U. of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana - To aid the 12th Congress of the Pan African Archaeological Association for Prehistory and Related Studies, 2005, U. of Botswana, in collaboration with Dr. Gilbert Pwiti
Kent, Dr. Susan, Old Dominion U., Norfolk, VA - To aid research on 'Spatial Patterning at a Middle Stone Age Site, South Africa'
DR. SUSAN KENT, of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, received funding in April 2002 to aid research on spatial patterning at a Middle Stone Age site in South Africa. New evidence of the origins of modern human behavior and thought was gained from excavations and analyses conducted at Bethal, an open-air site in eastern Free State. The geology demonstrated that the site was a habitation rather than a special-purpose occupation and that it was spatially intact. Phytolith data indicated that the Middle Stone Age hominids occupied a grassland in what the geology suggested was a warmer and more mesic climate than today's. Judging from the stratigraphy, such climatic conditions occurred during the interglacial around 100,000 years ago. The spatial patterning of objects at the site revealed the use of multipurpose activity areas. This use of discrete activity areas contradicts research from Middle Stone Age rock-shelter sites in the same region. The Bethal activity areas, along with a storage cache of scrapers, are hallmarks of behavioral and intellectual modernity. However, the presence of a large amount of lithic shatter resulting from the breakage of raw materials inappropriate for flaking suggested that the selection of raw materials was not as sophisticated as is common for modern hominids. Although more research is needed, the site so far reveals an interesting mixture of modern and premodern human behavior and intellect.
Minichillo, Thomas J., U. of Washington, Seattle, WA - To aid research on 'Middle Stone Age Lithic Study, South Africa,' supervised by Dr. Angela E. Close
THOMAS J. MINICHILLO, then a student at the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, received funding in May 2002 to aid research on 'Middle Stone Age Lithic Study, South Africa,' supervised by Dr. Angela E. Close. The Middle Stone Age began around 300,000 years ago and continued to around 35,000 years ago in Africa. During this period anatomically modern humans emerged in Africa. Also during this period increasingly sophisticated technological innovations and the earliest evidence for symbolic thought entered into the archaeological record. All of these events are critical for our understanding of modern human origins. The research funded focused on the lithic technology of the Middle Stone Age from the Cape coast of southern Africa and presents new data from the region, helping to place this important period of our evolution in context. It was found, through the use of innovative methods and previously unreported curated assemblages that, during the Still Bay sub-stage, stylistic boundaries are apparent in the stone tools at the same time as the earliest recorded instances of worked ochre and shell beads. As this socially constructed bounding co-occurs with the earliest evidence for symbolic thought and personal adornment in the global archaeological record, it suggests that at least by this time, 74,000 BP, Homo sapiens in southern Africa were behaving in thoroughly modern ways. This overturns one of the widely held explanations for modern human origins, the Neural Advance Model.
Minichillo, Tom. 2006. Raw Material Use and Behavioral Modernity: Howiesons Poort Lithic Foraging Strategies. Journal of Human Evolution 50(3):359-364.
Minichillo, Tom. 2007. Early Marine Resources and Pigment in South Africa during the Middle Pleistocene. Nature 449:905-909
Bird, Catherine, Tom Minichillo, and Curtis W. Marean. 2007. Edge Damage Distribution at the Assemblage Level on Middle Stone Age Lithics: An Image-based GIS Approach. Journal of Archaeological Science 34:771-780.
Thompson, Erin, Hope M. Williams, and Tom Minichillo. 2010. Middle and La Pleistoncene Middle Stone Age Lithic Technology from Pinnacle Point 13B (Mossel Bay, Western Cape Province, South Africa). Journal of Human Evolution 59(3-4):358-377.
Apoh, Ray W., State U. of New York, Binghamton, NY - To aid 'The Akpinis and the Echoes of German and British Colonial Overrule: An Archaeological Investigation of Kpando, Ghana,' supervised by Dr. Ann Stahl
RAY WAZI APOH, then a student at Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York, received funding in April 2005 to research on 'The Akpinis and the Echoes of German and British Colonial Overrule: An Archaeological Investigation of Kpando, Ghana' under the supervision of Professor Ann Stahl. Multiple evidential sources were explored between June and December 2005 to document how practices of Kpando people (Akpinis), were impacted by precolonial and colonial political economic pressures as well as how colonial officials negotiated their daily living arrangements in district centers far from their colonial capital. The oral history, archival documents and ethnographic information revealed more about how Kpando-Abanu was first settled by two Akan-speaking groups in about the 16th century after which they were joined by the Ewe-speaking Akpini group, who migrated from Notsie in Togo to their present locality in the 17th century. In addition, the impact of slave raids at Kpando and their socio-economic relations with neighbors and the Asantes were also made evident in the accounts. Historical/archival data, corroborated by Akpini oral history, also revealed how the German (1886-1914) and later British (1914-1957) colonial regimes established a settlement at Kpando Todzi and worked to cultivate new markets for their European products (ceramics, textile, new world crops, alcohol, Christianity, education etc). They also diverted local labor and local production toward commodities (palm oil, cotton, rubber, animal skin etc) deemed important by the metropolis. The reverberations of these varied encounters in Kpando led to the monetization and restructuring of the local economy, which impacted gendered divisions of labor, led to new forms of specialization and indigenous reactions to new products. Complementary data from archaeological test excavations at Kpando-Todzi site (colonial quarters and native support staff quarters) provides insights into the materiality of these political economic encounters. Ongoing comparative analysis of imported and local ceramics, faunal and botanical remains from the two quarters reveals continuing use of locally-produced domestic wares (pottery) and food sources (palm fruit, wild and domesticated fauna) amidst the incorporation of imported vessels and crops ( i.e. maize and cassava) in native cuisine. It also provides preliminary insights into how the colonizers simultaneously maintained and blurred their social boundaries through conformance on the one hand to the 'cult of domesticity' (suggested by use of imported vessels and tinned/canned food) at the same time as they relied on indigenous foods. The findings from this investigation will enhance a proposed museum project at Kpando and also contribute to a growing body of case studies aimed at assessing commonalities and variations in intercultural entanglements and agency in colonized hinterland regions of the world.
Pobiner, Briana L., Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid research on 'Oldowan Hominid Carnivory: Bone Modification Studies at Koobi Fora and Olduvai Gorge,' supervised by Dr. Robert J. Blumenschine
Pobiner, Briana L., Michael J. Rogers, Christopher M. Monahan, and John W.K. Harris. 2008. New Evidence for Hominin Carcass Processing Strategies at 1.5 Ma, Koobi Fora, Kenya. Journal of Human Evolution 55(1):103-130
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.
Soressi, Dr. Marie, U. Bordeaux, Talence, France - To aid research on 'Symbolism and the Pace of Early Behavioral Modernity Development in South Africa, 75,000 years ago'
DR. MARIE SORESSI, of the University of Bordeaux in Talence, France, was awarded a grant in February 2003 to aid research on the pace of development of early behavioral modernity in South Africa and its connection with the appearance of symbolism. Toward this end, Soressi analyzed Middle Stone Age lithic production at the site of Blombos in Western Cape Province. Blombos had earlier yielded several pieces of engraved ocher and a bone tool industry dated to 75,000 b.p. or even older. At Iziko: South Africa Museum in Cape Town in 2003, more than 30,000 artifacts from eleven major stratigraphic units of Blombos were classified, labeled, and analyzed. Some additional collections (three layers from the site of Klasies River Mouth and several open-air Still Bay sites in Western Cape Province) were analyzed to complement the results obtained on Blombos material. The goal of the analysis was to reconstruct the process of production of stone tools, from raw material procurement to last shaping, using the concept of chaîne opératoire. It was expected that when data analysis was completed, Soressi would be able to demonstrate, for the Still Bay stage, a correlation between the scheduling of knapping activities and symbolic behavior as attested by engraved ocher. Such a correlation would favor the inference of a sudden development of behavioral modernity once symbolic behavior such as engraving appeared, and a link in South Africa between full behavioral modernity and anatomically modern humans.