Breunig, Dr. Peter, J.W. Goethe-Universitat, Frankfurt, Germany - To aid 19th Meeting of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA): 'Cultural Diversity of Africa's Past,' 2008, Frankfurt, in collaboration with Dr. Carlos A. Magnavita Santos
'Cultural Diversity of Africa's Past: 19th Meeting of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA)'
September 7-12, 2008, Goethe-University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany
Organizers: Dr. Peter J.W. Breunig and Dr. Carlos A. Magnavita Santos (Geothe-University)
The Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA) was founded in the United States and is today one of the largest organizations in the field of African archaeology, with members mainly from North America, Europe, and Africa. With 260 participants from 33 countries and about 200 presentations, its 2008 conference was the largest so far in the field of Africa archaeology worldwide. This important meeting was hosted by the Goethe-University (Frankfurt, Germany), and organized by Prof. Peter Breunig, in cooperation with the archaeology departments of the Universities of Cologne and Geneva. A wide range of regions, time periods, and subjects was presented and discussed. The opportunity to get together and present the latest research results is very important in a field where university departments are rare and spread worldwide. Such a meeting is thus the basis for establishing a global network of joint research projects and the discussion of important new methods and directions in African archaeology. Wenner-Gren funding helped over 30 scientists and students, mainly from Africa, with travel support. The next meeting will be in 2010 in Dakar, Senegal, in cooperation with the Pan-African Congress of Pre-and Protohistory and Related Studies.
Clark, Dr. Jamie Lynn, U. of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK - To aid research on 'The Sibudu Fauna: Implications for Understanding Behavioral Variability in the Southern African Middle Stone Age'
Preliminary abstract: Research on human behavioral evolution during the Later Pleistocene has increasingly focused on the nature and extent of human behavioral variability within the Middle Stone Age (and the Middle Paleolithic)--and on the uncovering the impetus behind the emergence (and disappearance) of innovative behaviors during this period. These studies are critical to our understanding of the development of a fully modern cultural system and provide insight into similarities (and differences) in the adaptive capabilities/strategies of MSA/MP populations. Sibudu Cave, which preserve deposits from the Still Bay (SB; ~75-68 ka) and Howiesons Poort (HP; ~65-58 ka)--two periods of the southern Africa MSA showing evidence innovative behaviors--offers a unique opportunity to engage with these issues in a meaningful way. This project seeks to gain deeper understanding of human behavioral variability during the MSA through analysis of the SB and pre-SB fauna from Sibudu; the primary goals are 1) to categorize the nature and extent of variation in human hunting behavior within and between these two periods, 2) to test hypothesized linkages between environmental change and the onset of the SB; and 3) to explore the relationship between subsistence and technological change spanning from the pre-SB through the post-HP MSA.
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.
Hildebrand, Dr. Elisabeth, Stony Brook U., NY - To aid workshop on 'From Fishers to Herders: Holocene Subsistence Intensification in the Turkana Basin,' 2008, East Hampton, NY, in collaboration with Dr. Richard Leakey
'From Fishers to Herders: Holocene Subsistence Intensification in the Turkana Basin'
October 13-18, 2009, East Hampton, New York
Organizers: Elisabeth Hildebrand and Richard Leakey (Stony Brook University)
The sixth in a series of Human Evolution Workshops organized by the Turkana Basin Institute and Stony Brook University, this meeting brought together 20 scholars (including graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and senior scholars) from Kenya, Ethiopia, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Core themes for discussion included contemporary diversity among early Holocene hunter-gatherers around Lake Turkana, the beginnings of herding in northwest Kenya, and the development of social complexity among local herders. Participants evaluated current paleoenvironmental records for the basin, critiqued existing chronological sequences, and suggested ways to improve both. Several archaeologists compared trajectories of social change in Holocene Turkana with those in other parts of Africa (central and western Kenya, the Sahara, Ethiopia, and coastal Eritrea), encouraging all participants to consider Turkana research in a broader geographical and anthropological framework. Senior and junior scholars together devised strategies to refine research efforts around the lake, push new investigations into surrounding areas, and ensure future collaboration between research teams.
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.
Apoh, Ray W., State U. of New York, Binghamton, NY - To aid 'The Akpinis and the Echoes of German and British Colonial Overrule: An Archaeological Investigation of Kpando, Ghana,' supervised by Dr. Ann Stahl
RAY WAZI APOH, then a student at Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York, received funding in April 2005 to research on 'The Akpinis and the Echoes of German and British Colonial Overrule: An Archaeological Investigation of Kpando, Ghana' under the supervision of Professor Ann Stahl. Multiple evidential sources were explored between June and December 2005 to document how practices of Kpando people (Akpinis), were impacted by precolonial and colonial political economic pressures as well as how colonial officials negotiated their daily living arrangements in district centers far from their colonial capital. The oral history, archival documents and ethnographic information revealed more about how Kpando-Abanu was first settled by two Akan-speaking groups in about the 16th century after which they were joined by the Ewe-speaking Akpini group, who migrated from Notsie in Togo to their present locality in the 17th century. In addition, the impact of slave raids at Kpando and their socio-economic relations with neighbors and the Asantes were also made evident in the accounts. Historical/archival data, corroborated by Akpini oral history, also revealed how the German (1886-1914) and later British (1914-1957) colonial regimes established a settlement at Kpando Todzi and worked to cultivate new markets for their European products (ceramics, textile, new world crops, alcohol, Christianity, education etc). They also diverted local labor and local production toward commodities (palm oil, cotton, rubber, animal skin etc) deemed important by the metropolis. The reverberations of these varied encounters in Kpando led to the monetization and restructuring of the local economy, which impacted gendered divisions of labor, led to new forms of specialization and indigenous reactions to new products. Complementary data from archaeological test excavations at Kpando-Todzi site (colonial quarters and native support staff quarters) provides insights into the materiality of these political economic encounters. Ongoing comparative analysis of imported and local ceramics, faunal and botanical remains from the two quarters reveals continuing use of locally-produced domestic wares (pottery) and food sources (palm fruit, wild and domesticated fauna) amidst the incorporation of imported vessels and crops ( i.e. maize and cassava) in native cuisine. It also provides preliminary insights into how the colonizers simultaneously maintained and blurred their social boundaries through conformance on the one hand to the 'cult of domesticity' (suggested by use of imported vessels and tinned/canned food) at the same time as they relied on indigenous foods. The findings from this investigation will enhance a proposed museum project at Kpando and also contribute to a growing body of case studies aimed at assessing commonalities and variations in intercultural entanglements and agency in colonized hinterland regions of the world.
Sahnouni, Dr. Mohamed, Stone Age Institute, Gosport, IN - To aid research on 'Investigations into the Pliocene Archaeology of Ain Boucherit, Northeastern Algeria'
DR. MOHAMED SAHNOUNI, Stone Age Institute, Gosport, Indiana, received a grant in April 2008 to aid research on 'Investigations into the Pliocene Archaeology of Ain Boucherit, Northeastern Algeria.' Archaeological investigations were carried out to examine the possibility of whether early hominins inhabited North Africa prior to 2.0 million years ago. The investigations consisted of surveying the research area, studying the stratigraphy and sampling for dating, excavating the late Pliocene fossil/stone artifact bearing stratum, and analyzing the excavated archaeological materials. The excavations yielded relatively rich stone tool and faunal assemblages. The stone tools are Oldowan and include core-forms, whole flakes, and fragments. The presence of an Equus bone bearing a series of cut-marks indicates the causal link between the stone tools and the faunal remains. Paleomagnetic and cosmogenic nuclides studies are underway but faunal taxa of biochronological interest indicate a late Pliocene age that can be estimated between 1.95 and 2.32 Ma. Thus, Ain Boucherit documents the evidence of the earliest human occupation in North Africa, and can help our understanding of the larger picture of early hominin dispersal out of Africa.
Brooks, Dr. Alison S., George Washington U., Washington, DC - To aid conference on 'The Middle Stone Age of East Africa and Modern Human Origins,' National Museums of Kenya (Nairobi) and Ethiopia (Addis Ababa), 2005
'The Middle Stone Age of East Africa and Modern Human Origins'
July 17-24, 2005, National Museums of Kenya (Nairobi) and Ethiopia (Addis Ababa)
Organizer: Dr. Alison S. Brooks (George Washington University, Washington, DC)
With funding from the National Science Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation, a week-long conference on 'The Middle Stone Age of East Africa and Modern Human Origins,' was held in Nairobi and Addis Ababa, July 17-24, 2005. The goals of the conference were: to discuss the evolution of Homo sapiens from a behavioral perspective in locations where participants would examine and discuss the actual evidence of stone tools, faunal remains and fossils; to visit a representative sample of Middle Stone Age archaeological sites to explore some of the issues of geological context, dating and preservation that are particular to this region; to create a regional network of scholars working on these problems in eastern Africa; to raise awareness of the importance of the study of modern human origins among officials and museum personnel in regions where the earliest human ancestors have received most of the attention and funding; and to promote the development of African scientists and African scientific organizations by holding the meeting in two African countries. The conference realized these goals through participant interaction over eight days of discussions, papers, field trips and examination of museum collections of both fossils and artifacts that had been laid out for exhibit in the two museums. In addition to meetings between East African scholars and museum officials, an African-led regional scientific organization, the East African Association for Prehistory and Palaeoanthropology, was launched at the meeting. The Wenner-Gren financing was especially important in supporting the participation of African scholars.