D'Andrea, A. Catherine, Simon Fraser U., Burnaby, BC, Canada - To aid 'Ethnoarchaeological Studies of Sorghum, Middle Nile Basin, Sudan'
DR. CATHERINE A. D'ANDREA, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, received funding in June 2004 to aid 'Ethnoarchaeological Studies of Sorghum, Middle Nile Basin, Sudan.' Anthropological field research in the Mahas region of northern Sudan was designed to investigate ancient and modern Sudanese crop and food processing techniques, emphasizing sorghum-based foods. These issues were examined through ethnoarchaeological interviews of Mahas farmers and sampling for archaeological plant remains at the Meroitic site of Dangeil, near Atbara. The persistence of traditional farming practices in the Mahas coupled with the recent introduction of mechanised equipment makes this a fascinating ethnoarchaeological study on its own, but it also provides an interesting comparison with recently completed studies in Ethiopia. Interviews documented impacts of the discontinuation of old technology and introduction of new implements, as well as a concomitant decline in the traditional knowledge base associated with sorghum and other indigenous crops. The social contexts of food storage, processing, and baking were documented by mapping modern and abandoned residential compounds and noting the location of food processing and related activities, including an in-depth study of griddle bread-baking technology. Ancient residues of crop processing and bread baking were sampled from a temple bakery at Dangeil, focussing on seeds, starch grains, and microscopic plant silica skeletons. These archaeobotanical samples will provide useful archaeological correlates to the ethnoarchaeological data collected in the Mahas.
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.
Manthi, Dr. Fredrick Kyalo, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya - To aid research on 'A Further Investigation for Microfauna in the Plio-Pleistocene Hominin Sites of Northwestern Kenya'
DR. FREDRICK KYALO MANTHI, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya, received funding in October 2009 to aid research on 'A Further Investigation for Microfauna in the Plio-Pleistocene Hominin Sites of Northwestern Kenya.' Mammalian remains have a number of features that make them important in ecological studies. In order to recover macro- and micromammalian fauna for reconstructing the environmental contexts in which Plio-Pleistocene hominins lived and also understand the evolutionary trajectories of mammalian species during this time period, a number of hominin sites in the Nachukui Formation, northwestern Kenya, were recently investigated. These sites include those that occur along the Lomekwi, Nachukui, and Nariokotome drainage systems. Work in these sites included surface surveys, and sieving of back-dirt sediments from earlier excavations so as to recover microfaunal remains that may have passed through the course sieves that were employed during theses excavations. Although some unidentifiable bone fragments of macrofauna were recovered from the sieving of the back-dirt sediments, no microfauna were recovered. The surface surveys resulted in the recovery of 245 fossil specimens, including a maxilla fragment that has been attributed to Homo sp. Another 59 fragmentary dental elements belonging to Elephantidae, Suidae, and Equidae were also collected for isotopic studies in order to contribute towards understanding the environmental contexts during the Plio-Pleistocene. Overall, elements attributable to Bovidae, Suidae, Equidae, and Cercopithecidae exhibited a higher representation relative to those of other taxa.
Negash, Dr. Agazi, Max Planck Institute, Leipzig, Germany - To aid research on 'Early Long Distance Raw Material Transport of Obsidian in Ethiopian Prehistory'
DR. AGAZI NEGASH, Max Planck Institute, Leipzig, Germany, was awarded a grant in November 2005 to aid research on 'Early Long Distance Raw Material Transport of Obsidian in Ethiopian Prehistory.' Researchers undertook fieldwork to investigate the early utilization of obsidian in Ethiopian prehistory with particular reference to the archaeological sites and geological sources in the Rift Valley. Among others, the objective of the fieldwork was to understand what is considered to be one of the key aspects of the beginnings of modern human behavior -- long distance movement or transport of raw material -- by instrumentally characterizing obsidian artifacts from the central Rift MSA sites whose artifacts are stored at the National Museum of Ethiopia and the geological sources where the raw material for these sites are supposed to have been obtained. Research focused on obsidian because it is an ideal raw material for tracing its movement from sources to archaeological sites due to, with few exceptions, its specific chemical composition with every eruption. More than 600 samples have now been characterized, of which 170 of them are artifacts from archaeological sites. Preliminary data analysis suggests that some of the sites contain obsidian artifacts whose geologic origin is hundreds of kilometers away, suggesting that they have significance to the understanding of the emergence of modern behavior.
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.
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.
Thiaw, Dr. Ibrahima, U. of Dakar, Dakar, Senegal - To aid joint conference of PAA/SAfA on 'Preserving African Cultural Heritage,' 2010, U. Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, in collaboration with Dr. Ndeye Sokhna Gueye
Preliminary abstract: The Pan African Archaeological Association (PAA) and Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA) are the most important international platforms in the field of African archaeology. This joint meeting is unprecedented in the history of the two organizations and this is the first time SAfA will formally meet on African soil. It seeks to bring together Africanist scholars from around the world to promote research and encourage cooperation between all professionals in the field. It will gather c. 300 participants from around the world in Dakar, Senegal between November 1-7, 2010. The Congress will be structured around an overarching theme, 'The Preservation of African Cultural Heritage.' The meeting will also be a unique moment to recast and consolidate the role and place of the PAA and SAfA in the definition of a new humanism. We will look back at 50 years of archaeological practice in independent Africa but also will reflect on the prospects of African archaeology in the 21st century. More than ever, archaeologists and heritage managers who work on the continent are being asked to define the social and economic benefits of their work to the wider populace and to conduct their research so as to produce 'useable' pasts.