Behrens, Joanna P., Syracuse U., Syracuse, NY - To aid 'Digging the Great Trek: An Historical Archaeology of a Voortrekker Community, South Africa,' supervised by Dr. Christopher R. DeCorse
JOANNA BEHRENS, while a student at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, was awarded a grant in May 2004 to aid archaeological research at Schoemansdal, a mid- 19th century Voortrekker village in the Limpopo Province, northern South Africa, supervised by Dr Christopher R. DeCorse. The project investigated socio-economic diversity within a frontier community that lay along the northern margins of the wider colonial expansion, known historically as 'The Great Trek.' Between October 2004 and December 2005, Behrens undertook survey, excavation, and preliminary cataloguing as well as archival research in Pretoria, South Africa and London, England. Previous excavations at Schoemansdal, which had focused on the main community structures, were expanded, and houselots, located away from the village center, were targeted in order to access a broader understanding of the community. Shovel test pit sampling strategies were successfully employed in yard areas and six middens within the village were excavated, yielding assemblages that can be linked to individual households or properties. This material, analysed in tandem with that recovered from the community areas, is yielding insight into differential consumption practices and expanding historical understandings of trekker economies, specifically by shedding light on local and regional trade and exchange networks. The Schoemansdal material provides a crucial baseline assemblage for mid-19th century southern Africa and represents an important step in the re-interrogation of South Africa's Great Trek mythology .
Sahnouni, Dr. Mohamed, Stone Age Institute., Gosport, IN - To aid research on 'Further Research into the Pliocene Archaeology of Ain Boucherit, Algeria'
DR. MOHAMED SAHNOUNI, Stone Age Institute, Gosport, Indiana, received funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Further Research into the Pliocene Archaeology of Ain Boucherit, Algeria.' Investigations undertaken at the Ain Boucherit locality have resulted in the recovery of stone tools and animal fossils spanning from 2.3 to 2.0 million years ago (Ma), much older than those already known at Ain Hanech (circa 1.8 Ma). The new archaeological materials come from two stratigraphic units: Unit P/Q and Unit R. The Unit P/Q is stratigraphically situated 13m below the Ain Hanech and El-Kherba Oldowan bearing deposits. Within this same unit, in addition to fossil animal bones, researchers also collected in situ Mode I stone artifacts encased in a fine silty matrix. A diverse fauna was associated with the stone artifacts. The artifacts include primarily core-tools and flakes. Furthermore, fragments of a large bovid upper limb bone with evidence of horn inflicted cutmarks were recovered. Excavations in the Unit R, stratigraphically located 7m above the Ain Boucherit stratum (Unit P/Q) and 6m below Ain Hanech and EI-Kherba Oldowan localities (Unit T), yielded animal fossils associated with a rich Mode I lithic assemblage encased in a floodplain deposit. The fauna collection shows more affinities with Unit P/Q. The lithic assemblage includes core-tools, flakes, and fragments. The mammalian fauna preserves several cutmarked and hammerstone-percussed bones. A 22m-thick magnetostratigraphic section was studied beginning just below Unit P/Q from the bottom all the way up to the calcrete deposit that caps the formation. Both normal and reversed polarities were documented allowing a solid correlation of the local magnetic polarity stratigraphy to the Global Polarity Time Scale, using temporally associated vertebrate faunal biochronology. The successive archaeological localities at Ain Hanech are placed along the magnetostratigraphic sequence, from bottom to top, as follows: 1) Unit P/Q, in Matuyama Reverse chron, is estimated to -2.3 Ma; 2) Unit R, at the onset of Olduvai Normal Subchron, is estimated to -2.0 Ma; 3) Ain Hanech and EI-Kherba in Unit T at the Olduvai Subchron to Matuyama polarity reversal, are estimated to -1.8 Ma; and the calcrete deposit (with Acheulean artifacts) below the Jaramillo Subchron, is estimated to over 1.0 Ma. Thus, Ain Boucherit currently represents the oldest archaeological occurrences in North Africa showing that ancestral hominins inhabited the Mediterranean fringe much earlier than previously thought.
Sahnouni, Mohamed. 2014. Early Human Settlements in Northern Africa: Paleomagnetic Evidence from the Ain Hanech Formation (Northeastern Algeria). Quaternary Science Reviews 99:203-209.
Sahnouni, Mohamed, Jordi Rosell, Jan van der Made, et al. 2013. The First Evidence of Cut Marks and Usewear Traces from the Plio-Pleistocene Locality of El-Kherba (Ain Hanech), Algeria: Implications for Early Hominin Subsistence Activities circa 1.7 Ma. Journal of Human Evolution 64(2):137-150.
Chazan, Dr. Michael, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'Archaeology of Wonderwerk Cave, Northern Cape Province, South Africa'
DR. MICHAEL CHAZAN, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, was awarded a grant in May 2007 to aid research on 'Archaeology of Wonderwerk Cave, Northern Cape Province, South Africa.' Research funded at Wonderwerk Cave (South Africa) has helped to establish it as one of the most important sites in Southern Africa. Research at the back of the cave (Excavation 6) indicates that over 0.180 Ma (the Fauresmith), hominins introduced into this dark locality (approximately 140m from the cave entrance) objects with special sensory properties. Intercalation of a 3D-laser scan of the cave interior and a survey of the overlying hillside confirms the absence of another entrance, implying purposeful occupation of Excavation 6, perhaps due to its special natural visual and acoustic qualities. This suggests that sensitivity to the sensory properties of a landscape and to materials, formed an integral element in the emergence of modern symbolic behavior. The age of the lowest in situ layers in the cave front (Excavation 1) has been confirmed as ca. 2.0 Ma, and represents the earliest evidence for intentional hominin cave use in the world. This finding was covered widely in the international media and has contributed to the candidacy of this site for World Heritage status.
Chazan, Michael. 2009. Laser Scanning for Conservation and Research of African Cultural Heritage Sites: The Case Study of Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science 36:1847-1856
Falgueres, Dr. Christophe, Museum National D'histoire Naturelle, Paris, France - To aid conference on 'Modern Man in Northern Africa: Chronology, Behavior and Cultural Heritage,' 2015, Rabat, Morocco, in collaboration with Dr. Mohamed El Hajraoui
Preliminary abstract: The project aims in meeting several searchers coming from different labs from Canada, France, Morocco, Italy and to enlarge to other labs from Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria. The main scopes are dedicated to geochronology, caracterisation methods applied to global heritage since the origin of Modern humans to the historic period in Maghreb. Two main subjects will be discussed :1.) Chronology and behavior of Modern Man since its origins about 130 000 years in Maghreb area; and 2) Caracterisation of pigments and colorants using different non invasive and portable methods in the frame of cultural heritage.The goals are:to establish the state of the art of the research in Morocco and discuss the results obtained since the last 5 years in Morocco; to reinforce the dialog between teams who are working in Morocco and to enlarge collaborations to other countries such as Algeria, Tunisia and Senegal in order to reconstruct the history of Modern Man in Northern Africa and his behavior from a cultural point of view. In 2010, a first meeting was organized by UQAM at Montreal. This previous colloquium allowed a good synergy between labs and inititated several collaborations in which phd students were involved. In 2013, a new edition was organized by MNHN-CNRS, Paris, involving Moroccan labs. In 2015, the next conference in Rabat is intended to consolidate these collaborations and initiate new prospectives for research and training.
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.
Bernatchez, Jocelyn Anna, Arizona State U., Tempe, AZ - To aid research on 'The Role of Ochre in the Development of Modern Human Behavior: A Case Study from South Africa,' supervised by Dr. Curtis W. Marean
JOCELYN A. BERNATCHEZ, then a student at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, received a grant in October 2010 to aid research on 'The Role of Ochre in the Development of Modern Human Behavior: A Case Study from South Africa,' supervised by Dr. Curtis W. Marean. The presence of ochre in Middle Stone Age (MSA ~250-40ka) sites in southern Africa is often proposed as evidence for symbolism and early modern human behavior. However, there is significant debate about the uses of ochre in the past and whether symbolism is the most appropriate explanation for its presence in these sites. This project focused on the following research question: Within the MSA sites at Pinnacle Point, South Africa, is ochre evidence for symbolic behavior, or were more utilitarian activities involving ochre taking place? Several aspects of the record were studied to test these questions, including geological survey and sourcing attempts of archaeological samples. The acquisition of ochre is typically a highly ritualized activity for recent hunter-gatherer groups when compared to the exploitation of other non-symbolically loaded raw materials (such as stone). An exploitation pattern focusing primarily on distant sources rather than closer sources or a pattern focused on a few deposits when many are available may be suggestive of some symbolic meaning. Twenty-four ochre sources were identified. Using Particle Induced X-Ray Emission (PIXE), it was possible to identify a possible preference for the ochre at one source located approximately 19km from Pinnacle Point.