Prendergast, Mary Elizabeth, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Forager Variability on the Eve of Food Production: Kansyore Subsistence Strategies in Kenya and Tanzania,' supervised by Dr. Richard Henry Meadow
MARY E. PRENDERGAST, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded a grant in April 2006 to aid research on 'Forager Variability on the Eve of Food Production: Kansyore Subsistence Strategies in Kenya and Tanzania,' supervised by Dr. Richard Henry Meadow. This research involved excavation and/or analysis of seven archaeological sites in western Kenya and northern Tanzania, dated to 8,000-1,200 years ago. The common link between these sites, despite spanning a large geographic area and nearly seven millennia, is that they contain a pottery tradition called Kansyore. Kansyore ceramics have been postulated by others to be associated with 'delayed-return' hunter-gatherers, who should have differed markedly from 'immediate-return' hunter-gatherers known from modern ethnographies. The primary research goal was to test this hypothesis by using animal bone remains to understand diet. The surprising results show that, while the occupants of Kansyore sites in western Kenya were indeed specialized (and probably moderately delayed-return) fisher-hunters, they were also the first to adopt herding in this area. This contradicts assumptions that new ceramic traditions and domestic animals entered the region together. The northern Tanzanian sites produced a more complex picture, in which hunter-gatherers and herders appear to have lived side-by-side ca. 2000-1200 BP, using the hill and lakeshore landscapes differently. At two of these sites, ceramic traditions usually linked to herders are found associated with the remains of wild animals, suggesting that we must decouple conventional associations between material culture and economy.
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.
Stump, Dr. Daryl, U. of York, York, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'The Long-term History of Indigenous Agriculture and Conservation Practices in Konso, Ethiopia'
Preliminary abstract: The twin concepts of sustainability and conservation that are so pivotal within current debates regarding economic development and biodiversity protection both contain an inherent temporal dimension, since both refer to the need to balance short-term gains with long-term resource maintenance. This point is not lost on proponents of resilience theory or advocates of development based on â??indigenous knowledgeâ??, some of whom have argued for the necessity of including an archaeological, historical or palaeoenvironmental component within development project design. Although this suggests a renewed contemporary relevance for several anthropological sub-disciplines, it also raises theoretical and methodological concerns regarding archaeological imperatives for â??heritageâ?? preservation, questions of local ownership, and long-standing debates about impartiality and political engagement. Moreover, it also prompts the fundamental question as to whether anthropology can truly claim to see and translate indigenous knowledge in the recent and distant past. The project outlined here is exploring these issues through a combination of archaeological, geoarchaeological, archival and interview-based research on the complex agro-ecological system at Konso, southwest Ethiopia; a system which is thought at present to have originally developed some 500 years ago, and has been described as comprising one of a select few 'lessons from the past' by a United Nations report on land conservation and rehabilitation in Africa (FAO 1990). The study aims to place the modern Konso agricultural system within its long-term context and to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the various ways in which anthropological research can engage with developmental and conservationist narratives.
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.
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.