Smith, Abigail Chipps, Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'Mobility and Urbanism: The Place of Mobile Pastoralists in Mali's Iron Age Cities,' supervised by Dr. Fiona B. Marshall
ABIGAIL C. SMITH, then a student at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, was awarded funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Mobility and Urbanism: The Place of Mobile Pastoralists in Mali's Iron Age Cities,' supervised by Dr. Fiona B. Marshall. This project investigates the relationship between mobile pastoral groups and urban populations in the past, focusing on the site of Jenné-jeno and its surrounding landscape. The project draws on four months of extensive excavation at two archaeological sites, Tato à Sanouna and Thiel, near the modern town of Djenné in Mali's Inland Niger Delta. Multiple lines of evidence are used to identify past modes of life in these sites and at the well-known ancient city of Jenné-jeno between about 200 to 1500 CE, particularly the interrelationship between sedentary urbanism, subsistence specialization, and mobile pastoralism. As the first large-scale excavation of smaller, outlying sites in the area, this project increases our understanding of the extent and variability of local human settlement. Additionally, the project's focus on subsistence and specialization provides empirical data about the trajectories of West African pastoralism and agriculture. This information enables discussion of the role of pastoral populations in the Jenné-jeno urban system and impacts our understanding of Jenné-jeno's trade relationships and political organization. Given the unique trajectories of African food production when compared to other world areas, this project is an important contribution to our understanding of variability in global pastoral strategies and mobile-sedentary interactions.
Cancellieri, Dr. Emanuele, U. di Roma, Rome, Italy - To aid research on 'Dating the Spread of the Aterian in the Central Sahara'
Preliminary abstract: Timing and routes of dispersal of H. sapiens across and out of the African continent are hotly debated. There is increasing evidence about a possible Saharan 'corridor' mostly based on environmental data, but archaeological data are scanty. The project principal aim is the acquisition of a new set of luminescence datings from selected MSA sites in SW Libya. The need for a refined chronology , especially for the Aterian of the Central Sahara, is nowadays crucial to track the spread of modern humans across North Africa in the late Quaternary given a) its sub-Saharan Middle Pleistocene likely origin and b) its early occurrence (MIS 6/5) in the Maghreb. The research will be conducted in the Fezzan region and will target two cave sites (Uan Afuda and Uan Telocat) in the Tadrart Acacus mountain range and one open-air site (01/134) in the Erg Titersin, NW of Acacus. The Uan Afuda MSA sequence has been already dated in the nineties but with as large sigmas as to justify a new dating. The material from Uan Telocat is unpublished and no dating was performed. At site 01/134 Aterian artefacts were recognized to lie beneath lacustrine levels. The excavation of a small trench at each site will provide soil samples to be dated by OSL and TL, as well as a new set of archaeological material useful to refine cultural and behavioral aspects.
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.
Barham, Dr. Lawrence S., U. of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom - To aid 'Excavation and Dating of the Oldowan Industry in the Luangwa Valley, Zambia'
DR. LAWRENCE S. BARHAM, of the University of Bristol in Bristol, England, received funding in July 2003 to aid excavation and dating of the Oldowan tool industry in the Luangwa Valley, Zambia. The Luangwa rift valley in eastern Zambia is the setting for a five-year archaeological and paleoenvironmental project, the aim of which is to develop a chronology of human use of the valley from the first stone tool makers to the first farmers. Artifacts representing all the major phases of the African Stone Age have been found there, including Oldowan cores and flakes, Acheulean bifaces, Middle Stone Age points, and Late Stone Age microliths, as well as the distinctive geometric rock art of central Africa. Early and later Iron Age settlements have also been located. Archaeologists have not systematically studied the valley, but research elsewhere in Zambia points to the region as a possible refuge for humans during the prolonged arid periods that characterized Pleistocene glacial cycles. The Luangwa River, with its many tributaries, lagoons, and nearby hot springs, may have provided critical food resources for hunter-gatherers throughout the last two million years. One aim of the project is to test this hypothesis by looking for continuity in occupation during known arid phases. The valley also forms a natural corridor linking eastern and southern Africa, making it a likely route of dispersal for early hominids and later humans, including farmers. In this first season, with a team of seven students, Barham sampled six sites covering key periods in the region's prehistory. Specialists from the universities of Lancaster (V. Karloukovski, paleomagnetism) and Edinburgh (W. Phillips, cosmogenic nuclides) took samples for dating.