Waweru, Dr. Veronica Njoki, Stony Brook U., Stony Brook, NY - To aid research on 'Chronology of Holocene Innovations and Inventions in West Turkana, Kenya'
Preliminary abstract: The Turkana Basin in northwest Kenya is a key area for important innovations and inventions in the Holocene. Here, at least a dozen excavated sites indicate that early fisher/hunters living along the shores of the large Lake used bone harpoons for fishing, made pottery and buried their dead in cemeteries. These groups, or new immigrants later adopted domestic stock and build pillars sites on the eastern, southern and western sides of Lake Turkana. The Basin also serves as a gateway through which domestic stock and intensely decorated ceramic wares are introduced to areas in the south. Research work between the 1960s and early 1980s produced modest data, including apatite and shell based dates that are today regarded as unreliable. The investigation proposed here focuses on the dating of early to mid Holocene innovations and inventions in the Kalokol-Lodwar-Lothagam triangle in west of Lake Turkana, Kenya. The proposed study area has both previously excavated and newly discovered sites with disparate functions and located in diverse paleohabitats during the early to mid Holocene. It offers an opportunity to apply newer methods of dating, assess the validity of >50 previously obtained dates and provide a timeline for Holocene innovations in an African context.
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.
Mosothwane, Morongwa N., U. of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa - To aid research on 'Molecular Tracing of Early Farmers Diets in Eastern Botswana,' supervised by Dr. Karim Sadr & Dr. Judith C. Sealy
MORONGWA NANCY MOSOTHWANE, then a student at University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, received funding in November 2005 to aid research on 'Molecular Tracing of Early Farmers Diets in Eastern Botswana,' supervised by Dr. Karim Sadr and Dr. Judith C. Sealy. The study was intended to identify farmers and foragers during the Early Iron Age (EIA) in Botswana through the use of stable isotope analysis. The areas were selected as they are known to have been frontiers of contact between foragers and farmers. The aim was to determine whether there were foragers buried on farmers' settlements or vise versa and to identify those individuals who had shifted from one of subsistance to the other over a long period. The human samples came from EIA settlements in the Toutswe area, Tsodilo Hills and Okavango River. Toutswe samples were derived from Kgaswe B55 (n=17), Bonwapitse (n=3), Taukome (n=5) and Thatswane (n=6), Bosutswe (n=13) and Toutswemogala (n=28) and others (n=4). At the Tsodilo Hills, two sites are Divuyu (n=1) and N!oma (n=3). Xaro (n=2), is along the Okavango River. Thus, 76 humans were selected for stable isotope analysis. Animal samples from archaeological and modern context were analysed to provide reference standards for the interpretation of human isotope values. They included domestic species like cattle, sheep/goats, and a dog as well as wild animals: zebra, hare, tortoise, and steenbok. According to results, EIA farmers in the Toutswe and the Tsodilo Hills areas relied on domestic C4 crops (sorghum and millet), which they supplemented with C3 plants. The C3 component was derived from a combination of domestic and wild plants. At N!oma the two individuals showed isotopic evidence for having been a foragers who later shifted to a farming mode of subsistence. It is possible that the Xaro individuals exploited freshwater fish from the nearby Okavango River but they were farmers.
Richard, Francois G., Syracuse U., Syracuse, NY - To aid research on 'Landscapes of Complexity: An Archaeological Study of Sociopolitical Change in Siin (Senegal), AD 1000-1900,' supervised by Dr. Christopher R. DeCorse
FRANCOIS G. RICHARD, while a student at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, received funding in January 2003 to aid archaeological research on sociopolitical change in Siin (Senegal) from 1000 to 1900 c.e., under the supervision of Dr. Christopher R. DeCorse. Richard examined long-term changes in political complexity and social landscapes in Siin through the combined lenses of archaeology, historical documents, and oral traditions. This region was a vibrant frontier, intimately connected to Senegambia's turbulent political economy and history of migrations, cultural encounters, and oscillations between centralized and dispersed social organization. To capture local expressions of these social processes, Richard conducted a systematic survey of three zones associated with state formation, identifying more than 180 sites ranging from late Neolithic to recent historic occupations. Limited subsurface testing was done at seven sites. The archaeological work was complemented by an examination of archives to gain insights into regional dynamics during the historic period. Collected surface and excavated materials were expected to enable Richard to (1) create a regional baseline of information on site distribution, settlement layout, subsistence economy, long-distance trade, and technology; (2) establish a chronological framework for regional sites; (3) document Siin's sociopolitical trajectories through village dynamics and settlement networks; and (4) examine variations in settlement patterns and artifact assemblages in order to understand how local societies responded to Senegambia's changing political economy.
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.
Susino, George James, U. of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa - To aid research on 'Optical Dating of Quartz Microdebitage from Archaeological Deposits of Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa'
DR. GEORGE JAMES SUSINO, then a student at University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, was awarded funding in October 2006 to aid research on 'Optical Dating of Quartz Microdebitage from Archaeological Deposits of Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.' This research addresses several key problems related to the understanding of archaeological site formation processes. In recent years, the reliance on sedimentary layers for chronological analysis of archaeological sites has been problematic. Site deposit disturbance is difficult to quantify, and archaeology has adopted several strategies for dating events within the stratigraphy. The most common is to date the terminus post quem, or the location of the lowest artefact (regardless of the movement of the material in the deposit). This research redresses these methodological problems by direct dating of remnant artefactual material (quartz microdebitage) and sedimentary quartz separately with optical dating techniques as to discern differences in age between the sedimentary and artefactual material. The OSL chronologies are then correlated with the extensive age determination achieved by other dating techniques (Radiocarbon and OSL on sediments). The Sibudu Cave site was selected primarily for the ready availability of sediment samples collected previously for optical dating and for the site importance for the understanding of changes within lithic technology from Early Stone Age to Late Stone Age. This research will apply a rigorous test for the validity of the chronology of lithic typologies at Sibudu Cave, and as a test of direct dating of artefactual material as opposed to the dating of sedimentary layers.
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.