Swanepoel, Dr. Natalie J., U. of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa - To aid 'Biennial Meeting of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA),' 2011, Mbabane, Swaziland, in collaboration with Dr. Mary Thembiwe Russell
Preliminary abstract: The biennial meetings of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists bring together professional archaeologists who live and work in southern Africa, as well as other international scholars whose research interests are centred on the sub-region. The conference provides an invaluable opportunity for these archaeologists to come together to discuss new finds and trends in the discipline with national and international colleagues and to build foundations for cooperative research and the sharing of ideas. Students benefit by interacting with senior members of the discipline. The conference attracts a diverse attendance from archaeologists based at universities, museums, in CRM practice, heritage management and government, thus ensuring the opportunity for real dialogue between practitioners with shared interests, who may not get the opportunity to meet otherwise. The conference programme includes oral and poster presentations, as well as round- table sessions to discuss issues relating to policy and practice. The scope of the conference covers the full span of southern African archaeology, including: current debates around human evolution and behavioural modernity, Stone Age population dynamics, social complexity, and the impacts of colonial settlement and culture contact. In addition, CRM practice, heritage management and the role of archaeology in southern Africa today are discussed.
Williams, Erin Marie Shepard, George Washington U., Washington, DC - To aid research on 'Influences of Material Properties and Biomechanics on Stone Tool Production,' supervised by Dr. Alison S. Brooks
ERIN MARIE SHEPARD WILLIAMS, then a student at George Washington University, Washington, DC, was awarded funding in April 2009, to aid research on 'Influences of Material Properties and Biomechanics on Stone Tool Production,' supervised by Dr. Alison S. Brooks. Later Homo possesses a derived thumb that is robust and long relative to the other digits, with enhanced musculature compared to extant apes and early hominins. Researchers have hypothesized that this anatomy was selected in part to withstand high forces acting on the thumb during stone tool production. Previous studies indirectly support this hypothesis; however, direct data on loads experienced during stone tool production and their distribution across the hand are lacking. Using a dynamic pressure sensor system and 3-D motion capture technology, manual forces and pressures were collected from six experienced knappers replicating Oldowan tools. Knappers used hammerstones requiring a 3-jaw chuck grip. Peak and strike forces and pressures and impulse and pressure-time integrals were consistently significantly greater on the 2nd and/or 3rd digits compared to the 1st across all subjects. Kinematics data revealed that this distribution pattern was not consistently present during up-swing, however it was established during the down-swing pre-strike phase and continued through swing termination. These results do not support the hypothesis that loads experienced during stone tool production are significantly higher on the thumb compared to the other digit, calling into question hypotheses linking modern human thumb anatomy specifically to stone tool production load resistance.
Williams, Erin Marie, Adam D. Gordon, and Brian G. Richmond. 2012. Hand Pressure Distribution during Oldowan Stone Tool Production. Journal of Human Evolution 62(4):520-532.
Hildebrand, Dr. Elisabeth A., Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'The Origins of Enset Cultivation: Archaeological Excavations in Southwest Ethiopia,'
DR. ELISABETH ANNE HILDEBRAND, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, received funding in October 2004 to investigate 'The Origins of Enset Cultivation: Archaeological Excavations in Southwest Ethiopia.' From 2004-2006, Hildebrand and colleagues did seven months of survey and excavation of rockshelters in Kafa. Survey documented 25 rockshelters, nine of which were subjected to test excavations. Two rockshelters, Kumali and Koka, have intact sediments of substantial depth with artifacts throughout. Koka, a lowland shelter, has moderate amounts of non-obsidian lithics, bone, ceramics, and plant remains. Kumali, a cavity in a highland basalt escarpment, has abundant ceramics and obsidian microliths; well-preserved bone, leather, and shell; and dense concentrations of desiccated macrobotanical remains and dung. Analyses are yielding the first cultural chronology for southwest Ethiopia, and important information about plant and animal subsistence intensification during the Holocene. Project activities included a field school for Addis Ababa University archaeology students, and coring of Kafa swamps and ponds to obtain paleoenvironmental data. Local modern vegetation studies funded through this grant, conducted by Addis Ababa University botany MA students, will provide a more secure foundation for interpretation of paleoenvironmental and macrobotanical data.
Hlubik, Sarah Kathleen, Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid research on 'Finding Prometheus: A Multi-pronged Approach to the Search for Fire in the Early Pleistocene at FxJj20 AB, Koobi Fora, Kenya,' supervised by Dr. Craig Feibel
Preliminary abstract: The search for the first use of fire in the archaeological record has been a topic of contention since the discovery of reddened consolidated sediments at the sites of FxJj20 East and FxJj20 Main at Koobi Fora, Kenya in 1973. Since then work at other contemporaneous sites in East and South Africa have added to the debate over the earliest use of fire by human ancestors, but none have unequivocally answered the question of whether ancient human ancestors controlled fire. Evidence for fire in the region is abundant in the natural record, but association of that fire with human behavior, particularly in open-air settings, has been problematic. The current study proposes to combine chemical, spectral, spatial and magnetic analysis with new excavations at site FxJj20 AB and experimental work to determine whether a signal of fire is present on the site and whether or not it can be associated with human activity. The project will conduct excavation at the FxJj20 AB site, as well as conduct experiments in the signature of fire on open landscapes. During excavation, all cultural material will be collected, as well as samples for micromorphology, Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), and magnetic intensity. Similar samples will be collected for experiments to create a reference collection of the signature of fire on an open arid landscape and how that signature degrades over time. This project will contribute a significant amount of knowledge to the study of the origins of fire.
Lyons, Dr. Diane Elaine, U. of Calgary, Calgary, Canada - To aid research on 'Edagahamus Potters and the Identity of Stigma'
DR. DIANE E. LYONS, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada, was awarded a grant in October 2008, to aid research on 'Edagahamus Potters and the Identity of Stigma.' In highland Ethiopia, and in many societies in sub-Saharan Africa, artisans are socially marginalized because they are believed to possess dangerous occult powers or because their craft diminishes their social worth. Despite the importance of these practices to the development of social complexity, the history of these practices in Africa is not well understood, partly because the material expression of stigmatized identities are not documented in ways that can be studied by archaeologists. This study investigates the material expressions of the stigmatized identities of female market potters in Tigray State near the market town of Edagahamus in highland Ethiopia. These women experience insults, violence, and discrimination at different levels of political decision-making even though their pots are essential for daily cooking on rural farms. These social practices of stigma are expressed spatially and materially at the household, community, and regional level. In addition, the study determined material ways to identify the Edagahamus pottery-making community from their production practices and from the analyses of material samples of pots, clay, and temper that will provide a physical and chemical 'fingerprint' for archaeologists to study their history in the past.
Murray, Shawn S., U. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI - To aid research on 'African-Rice Domestication and the Transition to Agriculture in the Middle Niger Delta, Mali,' supervised by Dr. T. Douglas Price
SHAWN S. MURRAY, while a student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin, received a grant in June 2001 to aid research on African rice domestication and the transition to agriculture at the site of Dia in the middle Niger Delta, Mali, under the supervision of Dr. T. Douglas Price. Because African rice grains (Oryza glaberrima) had been found at Dia without their diagnostic hulls, Murray's goal was to develop new methods of identifying the naked rice grains as either wild or domestic species. Research showed that the dimensions of African rice species (length, width, thickness) overlapped extensively but that ratios of these dimensions could discriminate between species. Interestingly, ratios for the ancient grains closely resembled those for the modem domestic species, overlapping little with the wild taxa. These results suggested that domesticated rice was present from Dia's earliest occupation (800-500 B.C.E.) and that farming in this region was older than previously thought. It is possible that domesticated African rice entered the upper delta from elsewhere, perhaps farther north or west.
Russell, Dr. Mary T., U. of the Witwatersrand, Wits, South Africa; and Kiura, Dr. Purity W., Nat'l Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya - To aid collaborative research on 'The Archaeology of Namoratunga I, Lokori, Northern Kenya'
Preliminary Abstract: The site at Namoratunga I in Northern Kenya lends itself to interdisciplinary research as it has archaeological deposit, skeletal remains, rock engravings and possible connections to the Turkana community. Archaeologists working at the site in the 1970s argued that this was the site of a Eastern cushitic pastoralist people. Whilst noting that the Turkana recognised many of the engraved motifs as their own livestock brands, they dismissed a connection to the Turkana. The site may be Eastern Cushite, but the evidence provided at the time (including just one radiocarbon date) was too slight to be conclusive. This site has interesting implications for the spread of pastoralism in Eastern Africa and for the possible identification of a pastoralist rock art. In this project we re-visit the question of the authorship, antiquity and the meaning of the burials and engravings at Namoratunga. The shared motifs on modern skin and ancient rock are intriguing. This may be coincidence, but if not, the use of the same symbols on different surfaces and at different times is interesting in the terms of how, when and why meanings of material culture change or remain unchanged, are shared or not shared by different ethnic and sociopolitical goups.