Williams, Erin Marie Shepard, George Washington U., Washington, DC - To aid research on 'Influences of Material Properties and Biomechanics on Stone Tool Production,' supervised by Dr. Alison S. Brooks
ERIN MARIE SHEPARD WILLIAMS, then a student at George Washington University, Washington, DC, was awarded funding in April 2009, to aid research on 'Influences of Material Properties and Biomechanics on Stone Tool Production,' supervised by Dr. Alison S. Brooks. Later Homo possesses a derived thumb that is robust and long relative to the other digits, with enhanced musculature compared to extant apes and early hominins. Researchers have hypothesized that this anatomy was selected in part to withstand high forces acting on the thumb during stone tool production. Previous studies indirectly support this hypothesis; however, direct data on loads experienced during stone tool production and their distribution across the hand are lacking. Using a dynamic pressure sensor system and 3-D motion capture technology, manual forces and pressures were collected from six experienced knappers replicating Oldowan tools. Knappers used hammerstones requiring a 3-jaw chuck grip. Peak and strike forces and pressures and impulse and pressure-time integrals were consistently significantly greater on the 2nd and/or 3rd digits compared to the 1st across all subjects. Kinematics data revealed that this distribution pattern was not consistently present during up-swing, however it was established during the down-swing pre-strike phase and continued through swing termination. These results do not support the hypothesis that loads experienced during stone tool production are significantly higher on the thumb compared to the other digit, calling into question hypotheses linking modern human thumb anatomy specifically to stone tool production load resistance.
Williams, Erin Marie, Adam D. Gordon, and Brian G. Richmond. 2012. Hand Pressure Distribution during Oldowan Stone Tool Production. Journal of Human Evolution 62(4):520-532.
Haradon, Catherine Marie, George Washington U., Washington, DC - To aid research on 'Environmental and Faunal Context of the Acheulean to MSA Transition in Africa,' supervised by Dr. Richard Potts
CATHERINE HARADON, then a student at George Washington University, Washington, DC, received funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'Environmental and Faunal Context of the Acheulean to MSA Transition in Africa,' supervised by Dr. Richard Potts. This research examines environmental change as a factor in the transition between the Acheulean and Middle Stone Age (MSA) archaeological industries of Africa during the Middle Pleistocene (780-130 ka). Faunal assemblages from two late Acheulean and transitional/early MSA sites (Olorgesailie, Kenya, and Cave of Hearths, South Africa) are used as proxies for environmental change. Species identifications provide broad ecological indicators, and measurements of teeth and bones contribute information on the diet of the animals and the type of vegetation they inhabited. Preliminary results suggest that the Acheuelan fauna at the Cave of Hearths was dominated by large-bodied, grassland-adapted taxa. The MSA fauna consists of smaller-bodied taxa that were adapted to a wider range of environments. This resembles the East African pattern of turnover from large-bodied grazers replaced by smaller-bodied, more variably adapted taxa around the time that modern human behaviors began to emerge on the African continent. Continuing research will investigate paleo-ecological similarities between East and South Africa at this time through additional analyses of the Cave of Hearths fauna; analysis and comparison of the Olorgesailie faunal assemblages; and analysis of metric data from both sites, including feeding types, body sizes, and habitat indicators.
Logan, Dr, Amanda, Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid engaged activities on 'Histories of Food, Home, and Field: Celebrating Women's Knowledge and Sustainable Choices in Banda, Ghana,' 2014, Banda, Ghana
Preliminary abstract: This Engagement project involves the presentation of long-term histories of food, home, and field to the community of Banda, Ghana. An event held at the Banda Cultural Centre will involve exhibition and interpretation of three displays along with an Olden Times Food Fair. The central goals are to emphasize women's knowledge, destigmatize practices associated with poverty, and promote local histories of sustainable choices in farming and house construction. Previous research sponsored by a Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork grant combined ethnoarchaeological and archaeological data to trace shifts in food, farming, and domestic architecture in the Banda region over the last millennium. Ethnoarchaeological research documented the use of edible wild plants during times of food shortage, but this ethnobotanical knowledge is being rapidly lost. Likewise there have been shifts in domestic architecture towards expensive concrete block buildings, and a devaluation of cheaper, longer lasting local architectural forms. Archaeological data show that Banda villagers were able to weather a severe, centuries-long drought in the 15th-17th centuries, with chronic food insecurity emerging only recently. These three results will be recounted to broaden local concepts of history to include women's knowledge, and explore how the past can inform the present, particularly in terms of sustainability.
Mothulatshipi, Dr. Sarah, U. of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana - To aid 'Biennial Meeting of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA): Thirty Years On,' 2013, U. of Botswana, in collaboration with Dr. Cynthia Mooketsi
'Biennial Meeting of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA)'
July 3-7, 2013, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana
Organizers: Dr. Sarah Mothulatshipi and Dr. Cynthia Mooketsi (U. Botswana)
With the theme of 'Thirty Years On: Reflections and Retrospections on Southern African Archaeology since 1983,' the conference commemorated the thirtieth anniversary of the original Gabarone meetings, when participants from Mozambique and Zimbabwe broke away from their South African counterparts for failing to support a motion condemning the South African government and its racist policies. The conference convened over 250 participants from across southern Africa, along with international scholars whose research interests are in the region and students from regional universities. With support from Wenner-Gren, for the first time in the history of the conference students outnumbered professionals, and gained representation in the ASAPA council. In the plenary session, the keynote speakers emphasized the need for the discipline to be more inclusive, to better address current problems (such as sustainable development, food security, and urbanization), and to more fully engage with the communities where archaeological research is being conducted.
Rosso, Daniela Eugenia, U. Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France - To aid research on 'Technological and Physicochemical Characterization of MSA Pigments from Porc-Epic Cave (Dire Dawa, Ethiopia),' supervised by Dr. Francesco D'Errico
Preliminary abstract: We will apply novel methodology to the analysis of the pigments and pigment processing tools from Porc-Epic cave (Dire Dawa, Ethiopia) with the aim of gaining a better understanding of the emergence of pigment related technology in this region, evaluating its complexity, and discussing the implications of our results for the debate on the origin of 'behavioural modernity'. Porc-Epic is a Middle and Later Stone Age cave site. Research conducted during our Master's has highlighted that this site has yielded the richest collection of pigments in quantity thus far, and a variety of processing tools. Porc-Epic is one of the rare Palaeolithic sites at which most of the stages of pigment treatment can be recorded. Contextual, mineralogical, colorimetric, morphometric, technological, and functional information will be recorded in a comprehensive database. We will analyze all the pigments and processing tools from the 1975-1976 excavations. They consist of 4233 lumps of red and yellow material, with traces of anthropogenic modification, and 23 processing tools. Pigments will be studied using Optical and Scanning Electron Microscopy, XRF, μ-XRD, PIXE Spectrometry, and Raman spectroscopy. A petrographic analysis of the pigments and a survey of the area will be conducted to identify the geological sources.
Blumenschine, Dr. Robert J., Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ; and Masao, Dr. Fidelis T., U. of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania - To aid collaborative research on 'Predation Risk And Oldowan Hominin Land Use At Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania'
Blumenschine, Robert J., Ian G. Stanistreet, Jackson K. Njau, et al. 2012. Environments and Hominin Activities across the FLK Peninsula during Zinjanthropus Times (1.84 Ma), Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Journal of Human Evolution 63(2)364-383.
Blumenschine, Robert J., Fidelis T. Masao, Harald Stollhofen, Ian G. Stanistreet, et al. 2012. Landscape Distribution of Oldowan Stone Artifact Assemblages across the Fault Compartments of the Eastern Olduvai Lake Basin during Early Lowermost Bed II Times. Journal of Human Evolution 63(2):384-394.
Swanepoel, Dr. Natalie J., U. of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa - To aid 'Biennial Meeting of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA),' 2011, Mbabane, Swaziland, in collaboration with Dr. Mary Thembiwe Russell
Preliminary abstract: The biennial meetings of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists bring together professional archaeologists who live and work in southern Africa, as well as other international scholars whose research interests are centred on the sub-region. The conference provides an invaluable opportunity for these archaeologists to come together to discuss new finds and trends in the discipline with national and international colleagues and to build foundations for cooperative research and the sharing of ideas. Students benefit by interacting with senior members of the discipline. The conference attracts a diverse attendance from archaeologists based at universities, museums, in CRM practice, heritage management and government, thus ensuring the opportunity for real dialogue between practitioners with shared interests, who may not get the opportunity to meet otherwise. The conference programme includes oral and poster presentations, as well as round- table sessions to discuss issues relating to policy and practice. The scope of the conference covers the full span of southern African archaeology, including: current debates around human evolution and behavioural modernity, Stone Age population dynamics, social complexity, and the impacts of colonial settlement and culture contact. In addition, CRM practice, heritage management and the role of archaeology in southern Africa today are discussed.
Willoughby, Dr. Pamela Rae, U. of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada - To aid research on 'The Origins of Behavioral Modernity in Southern Tanzania'
DR. PAMELA R. WILLOUGHBY, University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada, received funding in 2008 to aid research on 'The Origins of Behavioral Modernity in Southern Tanzania.' Our species, Homo sapiens, evolved in Africa by the beginning of the Middle Stone Age (MSA), around 200,000 years ago and subsequently spread into Eurasia after 40,000 years ago. By this time they are supposed to have developed complex technology, referred to as the Later Stone Age (LSA) or Upper Palaeolithic. It is hard to examine the MSA to LSA transition in Africa, as it is associated with major climate changes and near-extinction of our founders. However, initial research in rockshelters in the Iringa Region of southern Tanzania demonstrated that this area was a focus of settlement throughout both periods. In the 2008 field season, an archaeological survey and more test excavations were carried out. The survey was to determine where people obtained stone for tool manufacture, and how this changed over time. Only LSA and more recent sources were discovered, supporting the idea that MSA people obtained raw materials from far away. Test excavations carried out on the slopes surrounding the Magubike rockshelter showed that there were few intact cultural deposits. But a new 2.5 metre deep sequence with all cultural periods from the MSA onwards was uncovered directly below the main shelter.
Bittner, Katie M., and Pamel R. Willoughby. 2012. Working with Local Communities and Managing Cultural Heritage in Iringa Region, Tanzania. The SAA Archaeological Record 12(4):36-39.