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.
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.
Swanepoel, Natalie J., Syracuse U., Syracuse, NY - To aid research on 'Social and Political Change on the Slave-Raiding Frontier: Nineteenth Century Sisalaland, Northern Ghana,' supervised by Dr. Christopher R. DeCorse
NATALIE J. SWANEPOEL, while a student at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, was awarded a grant in January 2001 to aid research on 'Social and Political Change on the Slave-Raiding Frontier: Nineteenth Century Sisalaland, Northern Ghana,' supervised by Dr. Christopher R. DeCorse. The aim of the research was to investigate the changes that occurred among the Sisala -- a 'decentralized' society during the nineteenth century as a result of increased (slave) warfare and an expanded trade network. Twelve months of archaeological, archival and oral historical research was carried out between April 2001 and August 2002. Archaeological research concentrated on the late nineteenth century site of Yalingbong, a naturally fortified hilltop that was used as a refuge during a war that took place between a local village, Kpan, and the Zaberma, a group of armed, Islamic horsemen. In addition, it was used as a base of operations by the Kpan community in their own raids against neighboring communities while also acting as a trade center in the region. Mapping, surface collections and test excavations were conducted at fourteen of a possible thirty loci. Supported by documentary and oral historical evidence the archaeological finds shed light on the complexity of the domestic slave trade in Africa, the expansion of trade networks in the African interior, the nature of warfare, the impact of colonial administration in northern Ghana and the changing political structure of 'decentralized' societies as a response to increased warfare.
Swanepoel, Natalie. 2006. 'Socio-political Change on a Slave-trading Frontier: War, Trade, and ‘Big Men’ in Nineteenth Century Sisalaland, Northern Ghana,' pp. 265-294, in Paste Tense: Studies in Conflict Archaeology (I. Banks and T. Pollard, eds.), Brill Academic Publishers: Leiden.
Engmann, Dr. Rachel Ama Asaa, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA - To aid research on ''Slavers in the Family': The Archaeology of the Slaver in Eighteenth Century Gold Coast'
Preliminary abstract: 'Slavers In the Family': The Archaeology of the Slaver in the Eighteenth Century Gold Coast is a study of Christiansborg Castle, a seventeenth century European colonial trading castle. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the castle is also a former Danish and British colonial seat of government administration, and until recently, the Office of the President of the Republic of Ghana. This research employs monuments, material culture and museum narratives to study race, ethnicity, class, gender, power and social inequality, alongside memory and amnesia, and their effects on nation building, development and heritage. In a wider context, this research addresses the visual, material and extra-discursive forms of the triple legacies of the slave trade, colonialism and independence, as a strategy for understanding the complexities of the politics of the past in the present.
Wilmsen, Dr. Edwin, U. of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK - To aid engaged activities on 'Reciprocal Relations: Expanding the Benefits of Research in the Study Area,' 2015, Botswana
Preliminary abstract: This project has two foci. The first emphasizes outreach possibilities at two villages - Manaledi and Pilikwe, Botswana. Potters in both need greater exposure of their wares to potential buyers to increase income and encourage younger women's desire to expand their livelihood and hone entrepreneurial skills through potting. We will conduct discussions in each village presenting results of our studies in terms of initiatives to strengthen their ability to be active agents in their economic-political development and showing our films of their work, emphasizing their promotional value. Ownership of clay mines is a major concern of villagers; therefore current Tswana concepts of land and its resources and the potential of archaeological evidence for ascertaining legatee status with respect to such resources will be a key topic. The second focus is on a joint day-long seminar followed by a workshop for archaeologists in the University of Botswana and the National Museum. The seminar will begin with screening of the films stressing transformation of rock into clay, something with little attention in the literature. The workshop will interrogate a pluralist ethnoarchaeology concerned with the study of reciprocal transformations of technical systems and the socioeconomic organizations of a society in which they operate.
Lyons, Dr. Diane Elaine, U. of Calgary, Calgary, Canada - To aid research on 'The Yeha Pottery Project'
DR. DIANE E. LYONS, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada, was awarded a grant in October 2011 to aid research on 'The Yeha Pottery Project.' Material signatures of marginalized identities of female market potters living near Yeha in central Tigray, northern highland Ethiopia. were investigated. The study builds upon a previous study of market potters in eastern Tigray and provides a regional comparison. In Tigray and other societies across sub-Saharan Africa, different types of artisans are marginalized. The antiquity of these practices is unknown, but such practices are implicated in the construction of social complexity. Ethnoarchaeological field research determined the Yeha area potters' technological style, which is a material identity for each potter community. Comparison of the two studies shows that Tigray's central and eastern potters produce similar pottery types, but they use distinct technological styles. INAA analysis of pottery samples demonstrates distinct chemical signatures for the pottery from the two regions. Technological styles and INAA analyses can be used to track the history and interaction of these potter communities in the ancient past. Both regions express some spatial marginalization of potter communities, and in both contexts potters experience verbal insults, greater poverty than their farmer neighbors, and sometimes violence in clay mining extraction. When potters are compared with more stigmatized blacksmiths, a landscape of socially meaningful places associated with these stigmatizing practices emerges.