Walshaw, Dr. Sarah Catherine, Simon Fraser U., Burnaby, Canada - To aid research on 'Food Production Viewed from the Fields: Contributions from Swahili Ethnoarchaeology on Pemba Island, Tanzania'
DR. SARAH C. WALSHAW, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada, received a grant in May 2007 to aid research on 'Food Production Viewed from the Fields: Contributions from Swahili Ethnoarchaeology on Pemba Island, Tanzania.' Archaeological plant assemblages from several communities on Pemba Island, Tanzania, contain significant amounts of grain and chaff, suggesting that rice and pearl millet were stored in a largely unprocessed form. Ethnoarchaeological research was undertaken among farming communities on Pemba Island, where rice, sorghum, and pearl millet are farmed using non-mechanized techniques (such as hand-harvesting) to model the small-scale tropical farming systems of the Swahili. Observation of, and participation in, farming on Pemba Island helped explain several patterns seen archaeologically. First, hand harvesting eliminated weeds in the field and may be implicated in the infrequency of weed seeds in ancient houses and middens. Second, grains for food and seed were stored in the house to permit monitoring of amount and condition. Third, grains were reportedly stored in their husks to reduce loss from microbial and insect infestation, pest predation, and human over-use and theft. Labor constraints also posed significant pressures in this household-based agricultural economy, leading harvesters to spread the arduous tasks of processing throughout the year -- small amounts of grain were processed for each day's meal as required. This study demonstrates some of the agricultural and social motives for household-based agricultural practices, and provides a model for interpreting archaeobotanical patterns evident in ancient small-scale rice and millet farming systems.
Walshaw, Sarah, 2010. Converting to rice: urbanization, Islamization and crops on Pemba Island, Tanzania, AD 700-1500. World Archaeology 42:(1) 137-154.
Haynes, Dr. Gary Anthony, U. of Nevada, Reno, NV - To aid research on 'Later Stone Age Foraging in Northwestern Zimbabwe just before the Transformation to Agropastoralism'
DR. GARY HAYNES, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, received funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'Later Stone Age Foraging in Northwestern Zimbabwe Just Before the Transition to Agropastoralism.' One of the mysteries of human cultural history in much of southern Africa is why (and how) human groups made the dramatic switch from hunting and gathering to farming. This project's study area in northwestern Zimbabwe contains very understudied archeological evidence about the stone-age foragers of distant prehistory, and also just the merest hint of evidence about the farming peoples of a few hundred years ago -- but nearly nothing is known about the critical time period in between. This project aims to provide the missing detail. This project seeks to reconstruct the lifeways of hunter-gatherers in northwestern Zimbabwe 4000-2000 years ago, just before the profound cultural transformation of nomadic foraging systems into a radically different economy of agropastoralism. The study area is situated in a possible corridor of human ideas and population movements into southern Africa from the north, across the Zambezi River. Multi-disciplinary evidence about human adaptation to changing environmental conditions is being sought in the study of sediments and ancient underground water, and in archeological excavations of rockshelters that are yielding enormous amounts of stone tools, bone remains of animals hunted and eaten, ostrich eggshell beads, and charcoal that can be identified to tree species and radiometrically dated.
Kyriacou, Dr. Katharine, U. of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa - To aid research on 'Gathered Foods as a Source of Brain-specific Nutrients for MSA Hunter-Gatherers in the Southwestern Cape'
Preliminary abstract: The aim of this research is to analyze the fatty acid, micronutrient and energy content of some easily collected food resources available to Middle Stone Age hunter-gatherers in the southwestern Cape, South Africa, and assess the role of these foods in the evolution of large-brained, anatomically and cognitively modern humans in this region. Particular emphasis will be placed on intertidal shellfish, terrestrial invertebrates and indigenous plants. Previous research suggests that simple marine molluscs represent one of the best and most accessible sources of longer-chain omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as brain-specific micronutrients such as iron and iodine. Edible insects appear to be an excellent source of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Two South African species are particularly rich in shorter-chain omega-3 α-linolenic acid. Indigenous plants are also a likely source of essential fatty acids, as well as being the only significant source of energy in the form of carbohydrates available to prehistoric people in the coastal regions of southern Africa. The nutritional content and value of large samples of marine molluscs and terrestrial insects and plants will be determined by means of gas chromatography and inductively couple plasma mass spectronomy. New quantitative and qualitative information on the nutrient content of these foods will be integrated into the existing archaeological, anthropological and ecological framework for the southwestern Cape. This will allow for the evaluation of competing and/or complementary scenarios for Middle Stone Age diet and subsistence strategies, the interpretation of patterns in the archaeological record, and testing of hypotheses on the emergence of modern Homo sapiens in a key region within southern Africa.
Monroe, Dr. James Cameron, U. of California, Santa Cruz, CA - To aid 'The Cana Archaeological Survey'
DR. J. CAMERON MONROE, University of California, Santa Cruz, California, was awarded funding in October 2012 to aid research on 'The Cana Archaeological Survey.' Urbanism has been a central focus of archaeological research for more than a century. Although archaeologists have long focused on the earliest cities, a variety of urban contexts that thrived in contact settings have emerged as ideal contexts in which to explore urbanism from a broader anthropological vantage point. The Cana Archaeological Survey examines the origins of Cana, a city on the Slave Coast of West Africa during the era of the slave trade (16th through 19th centuries AD). The project sought to understand the changing relationship between Cana, a major precolonial city of the kingdom of Dahomey, located in the modern Republic of Bénin, and its broader hinterlands over the course of the second millennium AD. The project employed systematic regional archaeological survey and test excavation around Cana to provide initial inferences into whether urbanism in Dahomey was: 1) a deeply rooted precontact phenomenon resulting from the close articulation of towns and their respective countrysides; or rather 2) a state-driven process driven by long-distance forces of the Atlantic Era. Collectively, archaeological and ethnohistorical evidence collected suggests that the latter was the case, providing a valuable window onto the political and economic forces shaping urban life in the tumultuous Atlantic Era.
Assefa, Dr. Zelalem, Smithsonian Inst., WDC; Pleurdeau, Dr. David, Institut de Paleontologie Humaine, Paris, France - To aid research on
'Archaeological Investigations of the Middle/Later Stone Age Occupation at Goda-Buticha, Southeastern Ethiopia'
DR. ZELALEM ASSEFA, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, and DR. DAVID PLEURDEAU, Institut de Paleontologie Humaine, Paris, France, were awarded an International Collaborative Research Grant in November 2010, to aid collaborative research on 'Archaeological Investiations of the Middle/Later Stone Age Occupation at Goda-Buticha, Southeastern Ethiopia.' This ICRG-funded project was the systematic excavation of Goda Buticha, a cave site in southeastern Ethiopia discovered during an archaeological survey in 2007. A test excavation conducted in 2008 at this site revealed well-stratified deposits containing a diversity of Later Stone Age (LSA) and Middle Stone Age (MSA) material. A series of AMS and U-Th dates obtained in 2008 from charcoal and speleothem samples, respectively, provided dates ranging from mid-Holocene to 46 ka, but also indicated some complexities in the sedimentary and cultural sequence. The 2011 excavation at Goda Buticha clarified the sedimentary sequence and recovered a rich collection of archaeological materials using controlled excavation methods. Many LSA and MSA artifacts and faunal remains were recovered. Additional ostrich eggshell beads and isolated human skeletal remains were also found in the MSA levels. Sedimentological samples were collected for OSL dating and micro-morphological analysis. While thorough assessment of the significance of the site rests with the archaeological analysis and the chronometric dating that are in progress, the 2011 excavation has demonstrated the potential of Goda Buticha to provide insight into the late Middle Stone Age and later prehistory of the region.
Prendergast, Dr. Mary E., St. Louis U. in Madrid, Madrid, Spain; and Mabulla, Dr. Audax, U .of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania - To aid collaborative research on 'Archaeological Investigation of a 'Moving Frontier' of Early Herding in Northern Tanzania'
Preliminary Abstract: This project aims to understand the spread of herding and impacts on foragers in eastern Africa ca. 3000 years ago. Sites with so-called 'Pastoral Neolithic' ceramics, often associated with remains of livestock in Kenya, are found in an area stretching from the Serengeti to the Rift Valley in northern Tanzania. This poorly documented area is usually thought to mark the southern 'boundary' of early pastoralism. The existence and implications of this boundary have not been questioned, and it might be more appropriately thought of as a 'frontier' that may shift, dissolve or solidify depending on the nature of forager-food producer relationships. Thus sites in this area are ideal testing grounds for anthropological theories regarding such contact. We explore the 'moving frontier' of herding through systematic surveys and test excavations in the Manyara and Engaruka basins of the Rift Valley. We aim to: understand how land use varied according to subsistence strategy; refine the local chronology for early herding; examine claims for contact among Rift Valley populations; and elucidate the relationship, if any, between material culture and subsistence. The team includes specialists from Tanzania, Europe and the US who will train Tanzanian students in field methods and materials analyses.
Stump, Dr. Daryl, U. of York, York, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'The Long-term History of Indigenous Agriculture and Conservation Practices in Konso, Ethiopia'
Preliminary abstract: The twin concepts of sustainability and conservation that are so pivotal within current debates regarding economic development and biodiversity protection both contain an inherent temporal dimension, since both refer to the need to balance short-term gains with long-term resource maintenance. This point is not lost on proponents of resilience theory or advocates of development based on â€˜indigenous knowledgeâ€™, some of whom have argued for the necessity of including an archaeological, historical or palaeoenvironmental component within development project design. Although this suggests a renewed contemporary relevance for several anthropological sub-disciplines, it also raises theoretical and methodological concerns regarding archaeological imperatives for â€˜heritageâ€™ preservation, questions of local ownership, and long-standing debates about impartiality and political engagement. Moreover, it also prompts the fundamental question as to whether anthropology can truly claim to see and translate indigenous knowledge in the recent and distant past. The project outlined here is exploring these issues through a combination of archaeological, geoarchaeological, archival and interview-based research on the complex agro-ecological system at Konso, southwest Ethiopia; a system which is thought at present to have originally developed some 500 years ago, and has been described as comprising one of a select few 'lessons from the past' by a United Nations report on land conservation and rehabilitation in Africa (FAO 1990). The study aims to place the modern Konso agricultural system within its long-term context and to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the various ways in which anthropological research can engage with developmental and conservationist narratives.
Cunningham, Jerimy J., McGill U., Montreal, Canada - To aid research on 'Ceramic Consumption in the Inland Niger Delta: An Ethnoarchaeological Study,' supervised by Dr. Bruce G. Trigger
JERIMY J. CUNNINGHAM, while a student a McGill University in Montreal, Canada, received an award in February 2002 to aid ethnoarchaeological research on ceramic consumption in the inland Niger delta of Mali, under the supervision of Dr. Bruce G. Trigger. Cunningham investigated the exchange of ceramic vessels in the Djenne region both as a function of economic processes and as a reflection of consumption. In the first phase of the project, 124 potters located within a thirty-kilometer radius of the town of Djenne were interviewed about the economic and social contexts of their production and marketing strategies. In the second phase, one hundred consumer households were randomly selected from a region twenty kilometers in radius, centered on Djenne. The primary buyers of ceramic, plastic, aluminum, and enameled vessels were interviewed regarding their 'tastes' for specific objects, and a census was taken of all household containers. Census data were recorded for 1,829 vessels, including type of vessel, where it was purchased, the identity of the purchaser, the vessel's age, the type of exchange, and the object's location in the house. Cunningham's findings underscored the complex processes that affected the movement of household vessels on a regional scale. In particular, the data showed the complex ways in which ceramic production and marketing, and women's consumption of ceramic, plastic, aluminum, and enameled containers, related to gendered systems of exploitation among the region's patrilineal households.
Cunningham, Jerimy J. 2003. Rethinking Style in Archaeology' pp. in Essential Tensions in Archaeological Method and Theory (Eds. Todd L. VanPool and Christine S. VanPool), University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.
Cunningham, Jerimy, J. 2003. Transcending the ‘Obnoxious Spectator’: A Case for Prossesual Pluralism in Ethnoarchaeology. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 22:389-410.
Cunningham, Jerimy J., 2009. Pots and Political Economy: Enamel-Wealth, Gender, and Patriarchy in Mali. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 15(2):276-294.
Watts, Dr. Ian Douglas Somerled, Independent Scholar, Athens, Greece - To aid research on 'The Antiquity and Behavioural Implications of Pigment Use in the Northern Cape (South Africa),'
DR. IAN D.S. WATTS, an independent scholar in Athens, Greece, was awarded funding in April 2012 to aid research on 'The Antiquity and Behavioral Implications of Pigment Use in the Northern Cape (South Africa).' Earth pigment use is widely considered to date back approximately 300,000 years (~300 ka), but several poorly documented claims have been made for earlier use, from Fauresmith and Acheulean contexts in South Africa's Northern Cape. This project evaluated these claims. At Kathu Pan, scraped specularite-a glittery form of haematite-is associated with some of the earliest blades and points, at ~500 ka. This is currently the earliest compelling evidence for pigment use. Utilized specularite and red pigments were recovered from an undated Fauresmith context at the back of Wonderwerk Cave, where firelight would have been essential. Specularite was also confirmed at Canteen Kopje, associated with early Middle Stone Age or Fauresmith material, with dating estimates for overlying deposits indicating a minimum age of ~300 ka. Claims for Acheulean pigments at Kathu Pan, Kathu Townlands, and Wonderwerk could not be confirmed; indeed, there is good evidence of absence. Minimum distances to specularite outcrops for Wonderwerk and Canteen Kopje are 50km and 170km respectively, with no natural agencies capable of reducing these distances. These findings lend some support to predictions of Power's 'female cosmetic coalitions' model of the evolution of symbolic culture, while challenging predictions of Kuhn's 'honest, low-cost signals' hypothesis.