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
DR. EDWIN WILMSEN, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, received funding in March 2015 to aid engaged activities on 'Reciprocal Relations: Expanding the Benefits of Research in the Study Area, Botswana.' Initial discussions/seminars with Botswana National Museum and University of Botswana personnel focused on concerns about the relevance of ethnography for interpreting archaeological data and on new legislation regarding access to clay resources. It is unclear if this applies to small-scale operators such as potters whose access to clays could be in jeopardy; urgent steps must be taken to clarify the matter. Another concern was an increasing tendency for potters to adopt mechanical rather than traditional modes of potting, the fear being that a significant facet of Tswana heritage will be lost. A workshop (including the screening of the grantee's film on Pilikwe potters) addressed traditional and contemporary constraints on resource procurement as aspects of land tenure, the technical steps taken by the potters in transforming raw material into clay, and analytic procedures used to identify clays and how such data aid in identifying prehistoric social interactions. Visits to Pilikwe and Manaledi potters revealed substantial changes taking place in Pilikwe-which is being absorbed into a labor catchment area where potters 'don't want to stay 'traditional,' we want production'-while in Manaledi traditional potting is thriving, this difference largely a matter of geographical location. Both potters need market exposure and we will investigate ways to accomplish this.
McCoy, Jack T., Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid research on 'Ecological & Behavioral Implications of New Archaeological Occurrences from Koobi Fora, Kenya,' supervised by Dr. John W.K. Harris
JACK T. MCCOY, then a student at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, was awarded a grant in December 2005 to aid research on 'Ecological and Behavioral Implications of New Archaeological Occurrences from Koobi Fora, Kenya,' supervised by Dr. John W.K. Harris. Decades of investigations in Upper Burgi Member exposures (2.2 to 1.9 Ma) by many prominent paleoanthropologists have produced more than three dozen hominin body fossils but virtually no stone tools or other evidence of behavior has been reported. These exposed sediments preserve an archive of fossils that can reveal a great deal about the ecology, environment, and changing foraging behaviors of the earliest members of the genus Homo. Through the collection and analysis of the fossils of terrestrial vertebrates, it is possible to reconstruct ancient animal communities and offer hypotheses about the changing ecological niche that early human ancestors occupied. The addition of significant quantities of meat and marrow into the diet of early hominins is also visible in the fossil record. Cut marks and percussion marks are preserved on fossil bones and this evidence of hominin presence and behavior was collected during this field research along with the oldest stone tools yet discovered at Koobi Fora. This research makes it possible to construct testable hypotheses about hominin habitat and changing foraging behaviors at this critical juncture in human evolution.
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.
Njau, Jackson K., Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid research on 'Vertebrate Taphonomy and Paleoecology of Lake-Margin Wetlands during Oldowan Times in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania,' supervised by Dr. Robert J. Blumenschine
JACKSON K. NJAU, while a student at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, received an award December 2001 to aid research on the vertebrate taphonomy and paleoecology of lake-margin wetlands during Oldowan times in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, under the supervision of Dr. Robert J. Blumenschine. Njau's objective was to develop ecological models of landscape facets as they pertained to early hominids and large wetland vertebrate fauna during the Plio-Pleistocene at Olduvai Gorge. The ultimate goal was to understand the ecological contexts in which the behaviors of stone-tool-using human ancestors evolved. Studying the feeding behavior of captive crocodiles and their consumption of large mammalian carcasses, Njau developed basic taphonomic guidelines for distinguishing the effects of crocodilians from those of large terrestrial carnivores in bone accumulations. He also studied large-vertebrate bone assemblages on modern wetland land surfaces in Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Lakes Manyara and Eyasi. Systematic and intensive bone surveys were carried out at a very fine landscape scale in order to match environmental settings that might have existed in ancient Olduvai lake deposits, where unusually rich paleontological and archaeological material has been collected. Modern analog studies provided a useful tool in developing techniques for identifying the taphonomic characteristics of landscape sub-environments for application to prehistoric landscapes.
Njau, Jackson K., and Leslea J. Hlusko. 2010. Fine-Tuning Paleoanthropological Reconnaissance with High-Resolution Satellite Imager: The Discovery of 28 New Sites in Tanzania. Journal of Human Evolution 59(6):680-684.
Njau, Jackson K., and Robert J. Blumenschine. 2006. A diagnosis of crocodile feeding traces on larger mammal bone, with fossil examples from the Plio-Pleistocene Olduvai Basin, Tanzania. Journal of Human Evolution 50 (2006): 142-162
Sahnouni, Dr. Mohamed, Stone Age Institute., Gosport, IN - To aid research on 'Further Research into the Pliocene Archaeology of Ain Boucherit, Algeria'
DR. MOHAMED SAHNOUNI, Stone Age Institute, Gosport, Indiana, received funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Further Research into the Pliocene Archaeology of Ain Boucherit, Algeria.' Investigations undertaken at the Ain Boucherit locality have resulted in the recovery of stone tools and animal fossils spanning from 2.3 to 2.0 million years ago (Ma), much older than those already known at Ain Hanech (circa 1.8 Ma). The new archaeological materials come from two stratigraphic units: Unit P/Q and Unit R. The Unit P/Q is stratigraphically situated 13m below the Ain Hanech and El-Kherba Oldowan bearing deposits. Within this same unit, in addition to fossil animal bones, researchers also collected in situ Mode I stone artifacts encased in a fine silty matrix. A diverse fauna was associated with the stone artifacts. The artifacts include primarily core-tools and flakes. Furthermore, fragments of a large bovid upper limb bone with evidence of horn inflicted cutmarks were recovered. Excavations in the Unit R, stratigraphically located 7m above the Ain Boucherit stratum (Unit P/Q) and 6m below Ain Hanech and EI-Kherba Oldowan localities (Unit T), yielded animal fossils associated with a rich Mode I lithic assemblage encased in a floodplain deposit. The fauna collection shows more affinities with Unit P/Q. The lithic assemblage includes core-tools, flakes, and fragments. The mammalian fauna preserves several cutmarked and hammerstone-percussed bones. A 22m-thick magnetostratigraphic section was studied beginning just below Unit P/Q from the bottom all the way up to the calcrete deposit that caps the formation. Both normal and reversed polarities were documented allowing a solid correlation of the local magnetic polarity stratigraphy to the Global Polarity Time Scale, using temporally associated vertebrate faunal biochronology. The successive archaeological localities at Ain Hanech are placed along the magnetostratigraphic sequence, from bottom to top, as follows: 1) Unit P/Q, in Matuyama Reverse chron, is estimated to -2.3 Ma; 2) Unit R, at the onset of Olduvai Normal Subchron, is estimated to -2.0 Ma; 3) Ain Hanech and EI-Kherba in Unit T at the Olduvai Subchron to Matuyama polarity reversal, are estimated to -1.8 Ma; and the calcrete deposit (with Acheulean artifacts) below the Jaramillo Subchron, is estimated to over 1.0 Ma. Thus, Ain Boucherit currently represents the oldest archaeological occurrences in North Africa showing that ancestral hominins inhabited the Mediterranean fringe much earlier than previously thought.
Sahnouni, Mohamed. 2014. Early Human Settlements in Northern Africa: Paleomagnetic Evidence from the Ain Hanech Formation (Northeastern Algeria). Quaternary Science Reviews 99:203-209.
Sahnouni, Mohamed, Jordi Rosell, Jan van der Made, et al. 2013. The First Evidence of Cut Marks and Usewear Traces from the Plio-Pleistocene Locality of El-Kherba (Ain Hanech), Algeria: Implications for Early Hominin Subsistence Activities circa 1.7 Ma. Journal of Human Evolution 64(2):137-150.