Kelly, Dr. Kenneth, U. of South Carolina, Columbia, SC; and Fall, Dr. Elhadj Ibrahima, University Nelson Mandala, Conakry, Guinea - To aid Landlords & Strangers: Entanglement, Archaeology & The 19th Century 'Illegal' Slave Trade On The Rio Pongo, Guinea.
Preliminary abstract: This proposal aims to conduct archaeological work at 3 19th c sites along the Rio Pongo in Guinea, to explore the cultural entanglement manifest in the interaction of European and American traders with local elites, and the impacts of the slave trade on local societies. Following the early 19th c. close of the slave trade, the 'illegal' slave trade shifted away from the long-standing entrepots of the Slave and Gold coasts to the Upper Guinea coast. Taking advantage of the traditional 'landlord/stranger' relationships of obligation, European and American traders established a series of trading 'factories' linked with local, small scale polities. These traders married into local elite families, creating trader elite lineages that controlled the trade in captives and commodities. We will: 1) document and examine discrete archaeological contexts; 2) map changes in social organization and economy through an analysis of material culture; and 3) situate these changes in light of the traditional 'landlord-stranger relationship' of elite obligation to host foreign traders (Mouser 1973). Success of this project requires collaboration which marries the methodological strengths of Kaba, trained in archaeology and a museum and heritage preservation professional and ethnographer since 1981, and Kelly, who has conducted archaeological research investigating the entanglements of the African Diaspora in Africa and Caribbean settings for over 25 years. This project has broad implications for anthropological research: 1) we document the dynamics of the 'illegal' trade for which the archival record is incomplete, and yet was an important part of the African Diaspora of the 19th c; 2) we contribute to current conversations about cultural identities, and the role material culture plays in the their expression; 3) we investigate the strategies employed in the negotiation of cultural entanglements; and 4) we contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the political economy of the slave trade and its impact on the Upper Guinea Coast.
Mercader, Dr. Julio, U. of Calgary, Calgary, Canada - To aid research on 'Environmental Primer for the Mozambican Middle Stone Age'
DR. JULIO MERCADER, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada, received funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Environmental Primer for the Mozambican Middle Stone Age.' This project examines the impact of particular environments on prehistoric cultures as a way to disentangle the early dispersal of our species through central Mozambique. Preliminary work has established the stratigraphic sequence and a framework from which to pursue further investigation in 2012-2014. Excavation will continue at two cave sites to achieve a better understanding of the chronological, stratigraphic, and environmental context of the occupation. These caves are in a region whose palaeoanthropology is currently unknown and they will provide valuable first information on late Pleistocene adaptations in the southern end of the East African Rift System. The planned research focuses on two sites out of very few where there is direct evidence of a tropical wooded palaeoenvironment, as shown by an abundance of opal silica from arboreal plants and faunal remains from wooded-adapted mammals. Opening these field sites to summer courses for North American and Mozambican undergraduates and graduates will facilitate their experiential learning.
Patterson, David Burch, George Washington U., Washington, DC - To aid research on 'Ecological Niche Evolution in Homo and Paranthropus at East Turkana, Northern Kenya,' supervised by Dr. Rene Bobe
Preliminary abstract: The fossil record suggests that our genus, Homo, originated in eastern Africa around 2.4 million years ago (Ma), at which time our ancestors would have shared the environment with a closely related species, Paranthropus boisei. However, the record indicates that by 1.3 Ma the Paranthropus lineage went extinct and Homo had expanded outside of Africa. Although we understand they coexisted, we lack a relevant framework for testing hypotheses related to their ecologies during this period. The objective of this project is to use the quantitative methods of community ecology and stable isotope geochemistry to contrast the ecological niches of Homo and Paranthropus within a localized paleoecosystem. This study will use data collected directly from hominin localities and archaeological sites between 2 -- 1.4 Ma at East Turkana in northern Kenya to test a series of hypotheses related to the following research question: What role did ecological conditions play in the different fates of Homo and Paranthropus between 2 Ma and 1.4 Ma? This study will create the first high-resolution reconstruction of the niches of these two taxa and provide key insights into the mechanisms behind the survival of our genus on landscapes that witnessed the extinction of our close fossil relatives.
Breunig, Dr. Peter, J.W. Goethe-Universitat, Frankfurt, Germany - To aid 19th Meeting of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA): 'Cultural Diversity of Africa's Past,' 2008, Frankfurt, in collaboration with Dr. Carlos A. Magnavita Santos
'Cultural Diversity of Africa's Past: 19th Meeting of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA)'
September 7-12, 2008, Goethe-University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany
Organizers: Dr. Peter J.W. Breunig and Dr. Carlos A. Magnavita Santos (Geothe-University)
The Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA) was founded in the United States and is today one of the largest organizations in the field of African archaeology, with members mainly from North America, Europe, and Africa. With 260 participants from 33 countries and about 200 presentations, its 2008 conference was the largest so far in the field of Africa archaeology worldwide. This important meeting was hosted by the Goethe-University (Frankfurt, Germany), and organized by Prof. Peter Breunig, in cooperation with the archaeology departments of the Universities of Cologne and Geneva. A wide range of regions, time periods, and subjects was presented and discussed. The opportunity to get together and present the latest research results is very important in a field where university departments are rare and spread worldwide. Such a meeting is thus the basis for establishing a global network of joint research projects and the discussion of important new methods and directions in African archaeology. Wenner-Gren funding helped over 30 scientists and students, mainly from Africa, with travel support. The next meeting will be in 2010 in Dakar, Senegal, in cooperation with the Pan-African Congress of Pre-and Protohistory and Related Studies.
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.
Usman, Dr. Aribidesi A., Arizona State U., Tempe, AZ - To aid research on 'Regional Interaction and Ceramic Distribution in Northern Yorubaland, Nigeria (14th-19th Centuries A.D.)'
DR. ARIBIDESI A. USMAN, of Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, received funding in June 2002 to aid research on 'Regional Interaction and Ceramic Distribution in Northern Yorubaland, Nigeria (14th-19th Centuries AD).' The project was carried out between December 2002 and June 2003. Ten sites from four districts of Igbomina -Erese, Ila, Ilere, and Esisa were examined by survey and excavation to understand how production and distribution of crafts such as ceramics took place in Igbomina. Petrographic, instrumental neutron activation, and ceramic stylistic attributes analyses were employed to identify temper types and size, clay groups, and areas of ceramic concentration. For chronology, charcoal samples provided radiometric dates. From the result, spatially discrete pattern of ceramic temper could be associated with village-to-village variation in ceramic production.. Variation in pottery decoration was observed between the northern and western Igbomina, with striation technique common or restricted to the north, and twisted string roulette as well as varieties of Oyo-Ire diagnostic types to western Igbomina. Instrumental neutron activation analysis identified ceramic reference groups (Ilorin, Ilere, Esisa, and Erese) that can be attributed to specific geographic areas and villages and trade between groups. There appear to be significant differences in trade patterns. In each of the geographic areas of the reference groups, between 72% and 87% of pottery were local. The rest were either local imports (from other geographic areas), or long-distance imports from centers outside Igbomina. Some pottery samples were unassigned to any of the groups, while there are questions as to whether lla-Yara pottery (western Igbomina) and Agunjin pottery (northern Igbomina) were imported or simply made use of clay with chemical similarities with pottery produced elsewhere.
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.
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.