Pante, Michael Christopher, Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid 'A Taphonomic Investigation of Vertebrate Fossil Assemblages from Beds III and IV, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania,' supervised by Dr. Robert J. Blumenschine
MICHAEL C. PANTE, then a student at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, was awarded funding in May 2007 to aid research on 'A Tophanomic Investigation of Vertebrate Fossil Assemblages from Beds III and IV, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania,' supervised by Dr. Robert J. Blumenschine. This doctoral project is a comparative and experimental study of fossils from Beds III and IV (1.15-.6 ma), Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. The goals met were: 1) to carry out experiments designed to address the hydraulic transport of bone fragments created by hominins and carnivores during carcass consumption; and 2) to curate and conduct the first analysis of the Bed III and IV fossil assemblages. Flume experimentation was used to produce a database of over 1800 observations aimed at identifying variables that are associated with the hydraulic transport of individual bone fragments. Initial analyses show that animal size and the dimensions of bone fragments affect the hydraulic potential of specimens. In addition to flume experiments over 100,000 fossils and artifacts stored since the 1960s and 70s were curated and organized. Vertebrate fossils from two sites WK and JK 2 were studied in detail to determine the processes responsible for the modification, transport and deposition of the assemblages. Preliminary analyses based on the incidences of butchery marks and tooth marks indicate both hominins and carnivores contributed to the accumulation of the assemblages. This data will be used to assess the evolution of human carnivory through comparisons with the older FLK 22 site.
Pante, Michael C. 2013. The Larger Mammal Fossil Assemblage from JK2, Bed III, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania: Implications for the Feeding Behavior of Homo erectus. Journal of Humanj Evolution 64(1):68-82.
Semaw, Dr. Sileshi, Stone Age Institute, Gosport, IN - To aid the 'Gona Palaeoanthropological Research Project'
DR. SILESHI SEMAW, Stone Age Institute, Gosport, Indiana, was awarded a grant in June 2008 to aid the 'Gona Palaeoanthropoligcal Research Project.' The Gona Palaeoanthropological Research Project 2008 field investigations were focused primarily on expanding the excavations opened at two Early Acheulian sites located in the Ounda Gona South (OGS-12) and Busidima North (BSN-17) areas. The OGS12 and BSN17 archaeological sites are estimated between 1.6-1.5 million years (Ma), and both are among the oldest Acheulian sites in Africa (though slightly younger than Konso, from Southern Ethiopia, dated to 1.7 Ma). The archaeology team excavated both sites and retrieved a large number of crudely made handaxes and flaking debris in situ. Further, survey of DAN-5 -- a contemporary Early Acheulian site from Ounda Gona -- yielded two additional hominid molars belonging to an early Homo erectus. A cranium belonging to the same individual, and estimated to 1.6-1.5 Ma, had already been discovered earlier at the site. The geology team sampled dating materials from OGS-12 and BSN-17 and several other Early-Late Pleistocene archaeological sites. Soil carbonates were sampled for paleoenvironmental reconstructions and for V-Th geochronology, and tuffs were collected for refining the age of these archaeological sites with zircon (V-Pb) dating, a new technique promising to yield reliable age estimates for the hominids and artifacts. In addition, more paleomagnetic samples were collected to tighten up the age of several important hominid (Ar. ramidus, 4.5-4.3 Ma) and archaeological sites known at Gona.
Stout, Dietrich, Sileshi Semaw, Michael J. Rogers, Dominique Cauche. 2010. Technological Variation in the Earliest Oldowan from Gona, Afar, Ethiopia. Journal of Human Evolution 58(6):474-491.
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.
Galloti, Dr. Rosalia, U. of Rome, Rome, Italy - To aid research on 'Technical Behaviors During the Oldowan at Garba IVD (Melka Kunture, Ethiopia)'
DR. ROSALIA GALLOTTI, University of Rome, Rome, Italy, received funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'Technical Behaviors during the Oldowan at Garba IVD (Melka Kunture, Ethiopia).' The site of Garba IVD has yielded one of the richest lithic assemblages in East Africa dated to 1.5-1.4 Ma. This period is crucial to understand the relationship between Oldowan and Early Acheulean and to characterize the diagnostic aspects of these early human activities. The lithic production of Oldowan knappers at Garba IVD denotes an evidence of raw material selection, involving a certain level of knowledge of the effects of volcanic rocks properties. The production of small-medium flakes is the principal goal of the knapping activity. The débitage methods are similar to those identified in other Oldowan East African sites. Obsidian exploitation strategies show a more complex techno-economic pattern. The use of this high-quality raw material is a unicum in the Oldowan framework. The rare and not-systematic production of Large Cutting Tools does not present the same characteristic patterns of the Early Acheulean assemblages in East Africa as specific raw materials procurement modalities and particular processes of core reduction to obtain large blanks. In the end the revision of the Garba IVD assemblage adds new data confirming the idea of a more elaborate and variable Oldowan complex, proposed in recent years by the technological re-examination of other East African penecontemporaneus sites.
Gallotti, Rosalia. 2013. An Older Origin for the Acheulean at Melka Kunture (Upper Awash, Ethiopia): Techno-economic Behaviours at Garba IVD. Journal of Human Evolution 65(5):594-620.
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.