Chemere, Dr. Yonatan Sahle, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'A Closer Investigation of Early Complex Projectile Technologies at Porc-Epic Cave and Aduma, Ethiopia'
Preliminary abstract: Complex projectiles (i.e. those delivered using a mechanical propeller) provide broader lethal ranges than throwing spears (i.e. 'simple' projectiles). They are therefore considered decisive for the successful adaptation and dispersal of modern humans during the Upper Pleistocene. The identification of such mechanically projected weapons in deep antiquity has proven difficult, as conclusive evidence indicating the mode of weapon delivery is as yet lacking from the African Middle Stone Age (MSA). Based on indirect evidence, archaeologists suggest that complex projectiles were already used in Africa by 100-50 kya. Suggestions from the Ethiopian MSA sites of Porc-Epic Cave and Aduma particularly derive from several hundred stone points that may have been used to tip arrows and/or darts. However, these inferences rely only on shape, weight, and/or retouch attributes of the stone points, informing on potential (rather than actual) use of the points as complex projectile tips. Considering their adaptive and cognitive implications, an exhaustive investigation of the origin of complex projectiles in Africa remains crucial. With the application of multiple approaches, including the non-subjective fracture velocity method, this study seeks to assess whether some of the MSA stone points from Porc-Epic Cave and Aduma represent early complex projectiles.
Ferraro, Joseph, U. of California, Los Angeles, CA - To aid research on 'The Late Pliocene Zooarchaeology of Kanjera South, Southwestern Kenya,' supervised by Dr. Thomas W. Plummer
JOSEPH FERRARO, while a student at the University of California in Los Angeles, California, received funding in February 2002 to aid research on the late Pliocene zooarchaeology of Kanjera South, southwestern Kenya, under the supervision of Dr. Thomas W. Plummer. A consideration of sampling biases (spatial, temporal, ecological, and numeric) suggested that in the past, researchers likely underestimated the behavioral variability expressed by Oldowan hominins. To assess the full range of Oldowan hominin behaviors requires the comparative analysis of a number of excavated Oldowan assemblages distributed across time and space, representing a wide range of ecological conditions and possessing well-preserved faunas. The late Pliocene locality of Kanjera South contributes toward meeting this requirement. Its assemblages represent the only sizable, well-preserved Oldowan faunas so far recovered outside of Olduvai Gorge, and preliminary geochemical and paleontological analyses strongly suggest that the assemblages formed in an open grassland, a habitat distinct from those of other Oldowan occurrences. Ferraro conducted a zooarchaeological study of the excavated vertebrate fauna of Kanjera South, focusing especially on issues of predation pressures and foraging ecologies. His preliminary results strongly suggested that Oldowan hominins at Kanjera behaved in a way dissimilar to that frequently reported at the penecontemporaneous Oldowan locality of FLK Zinj in Olduvai Gorge.
Wilmsen, Dr. Edwin Norman, U. of Edinburgh, Scotland - To aid research on 'Precolonial Botswana Social Formations: Optical Petrography of Pottery and Clays Linking Peoples, Pots, and Places'
DR. EDWIN N. WILMSEN, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, received funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'Precolonial Botswana Social Formations: Optical Petrography of Pottery and Clays Linking Peoples, Pots, and Places.' Clays from 66 locations in Botswana and adjacent parts of Namibia and South Africa were collected for comparison with Iron Age and Historic pottery. In addition, samples of major plant species growing in different parts of the Delta were collected in order to compare their phytoliths with biogenic silica observed in pot shards. Both clay and shard samples were prepared as thin section slides and examined with petrographic microscopes in both plain and cross polarized light. Variations in trace minerals and biosilica in both clays and shards plus the different mineralogical history of different parts of the region allow the identification of the area from which clays to make specific vessels were obtained. These mineralogical data combined with particulars of ceramic design make it clear that vessels circulated between sites in all parts of the region for as far as 400km. That this movement took place despite the fact that at most sites clays were available locally, and pots were made at the individual sites from these clays, points to the mobility of pots being a function mainly of social rather than technological considerations. Further research on contemporary potting will be undertaken; technological variables of potting will be noted, which will add insights into the present work.
Wilmsen, Edwin N., David Killick, Dana Drake Rosenstein, et al. 2009. The Social Geography of Pettery in Botswana as Reconstructed by Optical Petrography. Journal of African Archaeology 7(1):3-39.
Wilmsen, Edwin N. 2009. The Structure of San Property Relations: Constitutional Issues and
Interventionist Politics. Anthropologica 51:53-65.
Wilmsen, Edwin. 2009. Botswana Notes and Records. The Botswana Society: Gaborone.
Wilmsen, Edwin. 2010. Early Villages at Tsodilo: The Introduction of Livestock, Crops, and Metalworking. In Tsodilo Hills: Copper Bracelet of the Kalahari, eds. Alec Campbell, Larry Robbins, and Michael Taylor. Michigan State University Press: East Lansing. The Botswana Society: Gaborone.
Jillani, Mr. Ngalla Edward, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya - To aid conference on 'Towards Understanding Palaeoenvironment during the First 'Out of Africa,' ' 2006, National Museums, in collaboration with Dr. Fredrick Kyala Manthi
Geo-environmental conditions may have triggered migrations at various times in the last 3 million years ago. Physical human factors and the environment can also trigger movement both at local and continental scale. Ecology and behaviour of a dispersing species becomes more variable as novel environments are settled and no close competitors are encountered. Adaptability, key factor to an organism's ability to endure change, thrive and spread to new environments rather than climatic shift and expansion of grasslands may explain success of early Homo in its novel environments. Ubeidiya, with Mediterranean-type of environmental setting contrary to woody savannahs earlier interpreted for the initial stages of exodus, may mean that ecological success of hominins dispersing out of Africa should be sought in intrinsic characters rather than their adaptation to Savanna grasslands. Migration to another continent represents a radical departure into the unknown and usually follows easiest routes to regain known conditions. Foreign environments are colonized only if known habitats are completely destroyed till there is nothing to live on. Considerable changes in faunas during early Pleistocene in East Africa saw Primates and Carnivores experiencing increase in speciation and extinction rates. Ecosystems re-organization in the region's basins potentially encouraged dispersion through search of new resources and increased inter and intra specific population competition. Anatomical and behavioural evidences point to first migration by Homo into Eurasia from Africa about 1.7 million years ago (ma) at 3 km per generation. This quick successful dispersal and colonization possibly took place via the Levant, Sinai Peninsula, Afar triangle into the Arabian peninsular or the strait of Bab al Mandab. Brain size and specialized technology seem to have conferred less advantage despite the latter's considered significance in hominid evolution. High hominid variability evident in Dmanisi and Turkana basin imply that those penetrating new environments and colonizing new lands were experiencing ecological release, key to behavioural changes. An endemic species, Homo australis, colonized South Africa and highly probably Homo erectus/ergaster never did. To create a clearer out of Africa picture, more field research works be directed to areas not extensively worked, combining theoretical and methodological themes in the field, tease out stress driven markers in teeth to decipher environmental/ecological stresses, consider exodus as a process therefore work towards predictive models by considering short time intervals and finally encourage active collaborative data exchange among researchers in all regions.
Manthi, Dr. Fredrick Kyalo, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya - To aid engaged activities on 'Public Engagement in Palaeontological Investigations of the Plio-Pleistocene Nachukui Formation, Northern Kenya,' 2013, Turkana County, Kenya
DR. FREDRICK MANTHI, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya, received an Engaged Anthropology Grant in August 2012 to aid 'Public Engagement in Palaeontological Investigations of the Plio-Pleistocene Nachukui Formation, Northern Kenya.' The Lake Turkana Basin in northern Kenya has contributed significantly to understanding the evolution of human and non-human species during the Plio-Pleistocene. Although prehistory research has been carried-out in the Basin for over 50 years, a large number of the local people are not aware of the scientific importance of the findings from this research. In fact, many of the local people believe that researchers make a lot of money from fossils and artifacts. In the last six years, the grantee has directed palaeontological investigations in the Lake Turkana Basin, aided in part with funding from Wenner-Gren. In the course of these expeditions, it became evident that there was need for more engagement between research groups and the local people. Funding went to organize an outreach program in February 2013 that entailed holding public meetings, visits to schools and discussions with local administrators, which were all centered on the importance of prehistory research in understanding the past and (it is hoped) helped lay the foundation for future engagements advancing research in the Turkana Basin.
Negash, Dr. Agazi, Max Planck Institute, Leipzig, Germany - To aid research on 'Early Long Distance Raw Material Transport of Obsidian in Ethiopian Prehistory'
DR. AGAZI NEGASH, Max Planck Institute, Leipzig, Germany, was awarded a grant in November 2005 to aid research on 'Early Long Distance Raw Material Transport of Obsidian in Ethiopian Prehistory.' Researchers undertook fieldwork to investigate the early utilization of obsidian in Ethiopian prehistory with particular reference to the archaeological sites and geological sources in the Rift Valley. Among others, the objective of the fieldwork was to understand what is considered to be one of the key aspects of the beginnings of modern human behavior -- long distance movement or transport of raw material -- by instrumentally characterizing obsidian artifacts from the central Rift MSA sites whose artifacts are stored at the National Museum of Ethiopia and the geological sources where the raw material for these sites are supposed to have been obtained. Research focused on obsidian because it is an ideal raw material for tracing its movement from sources to archaeological sites due to, with few exceptions, its specific chemical composition with every eruption. More than 600 samples have now been characterized, of which 170 of them are artifacts from archaeological sites. Preliminary data analysis suggests that some of the sites contain obsidian artifacts whose geologic origin is hundreds of kilometers away, suggesting that they have significance to the understanding of the emergence of modern behavior.
Beyin, Dr. Amanuel Yosief, Stony Brook U., Stony Brook, NY - To aid research on 'Archaeological Exploration of Early Holocene Sites in West Lake Turkana'
DR. AMANUEL BEYIN, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, received funding in May 2010, to aid research on 'Archaeological Exploration of Early Holocene Sites in West Lake Turkana, Northern Kenya.' The fieldwork, which was carried out between October and November 2010, resulted in the discovery of ten sites on broad landscape contexts. The main cultural finds at the sites include lithic artifacts, pottery, and harpoon points. Faunal assemblages representing terrestrial and aquatic species (dominantly fish) were also found at the sites. Harpoon points and fish bones clearly suggest human consumption of aquatic resources. Out of the ten registered sites, two were test excavated. One of the excavated sites (Kokito) produced secured radiocarbon dates ranging 11,217-10,227 years before present. The discovery of sites dating to this time range from west Turkana suggests that the Turkana shorelines served as an important habitat for human survival in the early Holocene (12,000-7000 years ago). In documenting several new sites, the project has made an important contribution to the later prehistoric archaeology of the Turkana Basin, a region that had seen little prior research on this period. The Kokito date is the oldest secured radiometric date so far recorded for early Holocene sites in the entire Hasin.
Schrire, Dr. Carmel, Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid 'Analysis and Interpretation of Archaeological Residues from Excavations at the Castle of Good Hope, Cape, South Africa'
DR. CARMEL SCHRIRE, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, was awarded funding in June 2003, to aid 'Analysis and Interpretation of Archaeological Residues from Excavations at the Castle of Good Hope, Cape, South Africa.' The Castle of Good Hope, in Cape Town South Africa, was built and occupied by the officials of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) 1666-1795 at their refreshment station for their European-Indies trade. Archaeological materials excavated between 1988-92 have been analyzed and reveal that all sites are secondary deposits showing a sequence of ceramics, glass and fauna. Imported and locally made ceramics reveal the class distinctions inherent in official and private trade practices. Analysis of faunal remains reveals dietary and stock management practices, that evolved in the course of the dispossession of indigenous pastoralists. They contrast markedly with Dutch customs in Europe. The absence of a dairy industry here, coupled with evidence of an Indonesian cuisine, reveals the very distinctive nature of the Creole society that formed at the Cape under VOC rule. The results of this work form a valuable comparative data base for studies of the material signature of European expansion in the 17th-18th centuries.