Sealy, Dr. Judith Clare, U. of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa - To aid conference of Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA), 2008, U. Cape Town
'2008 Conference of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists'
March 24-28, 2008, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Organizer: Judith C. Sealy (University of Cape Town)
Of the 174 participants registered for the meetings, most came from South Africa but there was also a strong contingent from other Southern African countries. Sixteen delegates from Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe were fully funded by Wenner-Gren. Members of this group gave papers on a variety of topics including rock art, the emergence of food production, archaeometallurgy, museum practice, cultural resource management, and much else. Their presence made a very substantial difference to the meeting, transforming it into a much more southern African gathering, and bringing important perspectives to discussions on a wide range of issues. It is hoped that the regional nature of this association will be strengthened at the next conference in Maputo, Mozambique, in 2011.
Haradon, Catherine Marie, George Washington U., Washington, DC - To aid research on 'Environmental and Faunal Context of the Acheulean to MSA Transition in Africa,' supervised by Dr. Richard Potts
CATHERINE HARADON, then a student at George Washington University, Washington, DC, received funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'Environmental and Faunal Context of the Acheulean to MSA Transition in Africa,' supervised by Dr. Richard Potts. This research examines environmental change as a factor in the transition between the Acheulean and Middle Stone Age (MSA) archaeological industries of Africa during the Middle Pleistocene (780-130 ka). Faunal assemblages from two late Acheulean and transitional/early MSA sites (Olorgesailie, Kenya, and Cave of Hearths, South Africa) are used as proxies for environmental change. Species identifications provide broad ecological indicators, and measurements of teeth and bones contribute information on the diet of the animals and the type of vegetation they inhabited. Preliminary results suggest that the Acheuelan fauna at the Cave of Hearths was dominated by large-bodied, grassland-adapted taxa. The MSA fauna consists of smaller-bodied taxa that were adapted to a wider range of environments. This resembles the East African pattern of turnover from large-bodied grazers replaced by smaller-bodied, more variably adapted taxa around the time that modern human behaviors began to emerge on the African continent. Continuing research will investigate paleo-ecological similarities between East and South Africa at this time through additional analyses of the Cave of Hearths fauna; analysis and comparison of the Olorgesailie faunal assemblages; and analysis of metric data from both sites, including feeding types, body sizes, and habitat indicators.
Woldekiros, Helina S., Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'Archaeology of the Afar Salt Caravan Route of Northeastern Ethiopia,' supervised by Dr. Fiona Marshall
HELINA S. WOLDEKIROS, then a student at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, was awarded funding in May 2010, to aid research on 'Archaeology of the Afar Salt Caravan Route of Northeastern Ethiopia,' supervised by Dr. Fiona Marshall. In Africa, social, political, and economic structures have been shaped by salt production, distribution, and long-distance trade, in areas where salt is a critical resource. In Ethiopia, emphasis has been placed on Aksumite control of the Red Sea Trade (150 C.E.-C.E 700) and the trade in ivory, gold, perfume, and slaves rather than on local and regional trade in consumable commodities. Furthermore, scholars understand more about the geographic distribution of key resources than they do about other aspects of the archaeological record of ancient commodity flow -- such as procurement and transfer costs, or the material correlates of exchange activities -- that linked distribution centers. To address this issue, ethnoarchaeological research was carried out on the Afar salt caravan route in Northern Ethiopia, which focused on collection of information on the route and material traces of caravans to identify ancient use of the Afar trail. Major archaeological sites were identified on the salt route, and excavation of these sites revealed ancient bread-cooking stones similar to those characteristic of modern salt trader camps. Aksumite pottery and obsidian distinctive of the Afar were also identified, suggesting local or regional exchange in commodities from the Afar lowlands to the North Ethiopian plateau dating to as early as Aksumite (150 C.E-C.E 700) period.
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.