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.
Sadr, Dr. Karim, U. of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa - To aid research on 'Dating the Archaeological Sequence of the West Coast, South Africa'
DR. KARIM SADR, of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, received funding in January 2003 to aid research on the dating of the archaeological sequence of the west coast of South Africa. Sadr's objective was to test an archaeological sequence through the radiocarbon dating of surface marine shell samples from sixty-three sites. Ninety-seven shell samples were processed by the Quaternary Dating Research Unit of the CSIR in Pretoria. Preliminary results, combining the new marine shell dates with the corpus of published dates for the area, revealed a large increase in the number of radiocarbon dates for the period from about 500 to 1500 c.e. Assuming that the number of dates from any period serves as a proxy for population size, it can be suggested that this area experienced a major and rapid population increase in the second half of the first millennium c.e. This correlates with the period when sheep-rich sites are found in this landscape, though it does not correlate with the earliest appearance of livestock there. At face value, this finding refutes the currently accepted idea that livestock were originally introduced to the west coast of South Africa by a wave of migrants. Whatever the meaning of the late-first-millennium population peak, it clearly represents a major event in the history of this area.
Sadr, Karim. 2003. Feasting on Kasteelberg? Early Herders on the West Coast of South Africa. In Before Farming. [online version] 2004/3 article 2.
Bon, Francois, Karim Sadr, Detlef Gronenborn, and F. Fauvelle-Aymar. 2006. The Visibility and Invisibility of Herders? Kraals in Southern Africa, with Reference to a Possible Early Contact Period Khoekhoe Kraal at DFS 5, Western Cape. Journal of African Archaeology 4(2): 253-271.
Sadr, Karim and Garth Sampson. 2006. Through Thick and Thin: Early Pottery in Southern Africa. Journal of African
Archaeology 4(2): 235-252.
Sadr, Karim and Francois-Xavier Fauvelle-Aymar. 2006. Ellipsoid Grinding Hollows on the West Coast of South Africa. Southern African Humanities 18(2): 29-50.
Braun, David R., Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid research on 'Ecology of Oldowan Technology: Koobi Fora and Kanjera South,' supervised by Dr. John W.K. Harris
DAVID R. BRAUN, then a student at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, received funding in December 2003 to aid research on 'Ecology of Oldowan Technology: Koobi Fora and Kanjera South,' supervised by Dr. John W.K. Harris. The ultimate goal of this project was to determine if the archaeological record of Oldowan tool use could be used to determine the impact of stone tool use on hominid adaptive strategies. The two sites investigated in this study (Kanjera South and two localities from the KBS member of the Koobi Fora Formation) are particularly relevant for a description of the significance of stone tool manufacture because of their varied environmental and geographic context. We examined Oldowan technology through three major avenues: 1) experimental and archaeological studies of flaking patterns used by early hominids to extend the use-life of their tools; 2) geochemical and engineering analyses to determine the effect of raw material availability and quality on artifact production and discard in the terminal Pliocene; and 3) comparison of how these factors influenced the industries found in these two different contexts in northern and western Kenya. The synthesis of these three avenues of study have shown that Pliocene hominids were possibly adept at selecting high quality raw materials and may have preferentially transported rocks that had particular physical properties that made them ideal for making stone artifacts. Furthermore, these behaviors seem to be reflected in both basins of varying ecological context, suggesting that this may be an underlying pattern found in the earliest archaeological traces.
Braun, David R., Michael J. Rogers, John W.K. Harris, Steven J. Walker. 2008. Landscape-scale Variation in Hominin Tool Use: Evidence from the Developed Oldowan. Journal of Human Evolution 55(6):1053-1063.
Swanepoel, Dr. Natalie Josephine, U. of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa - To aid research on 'A Regional Archaeology of Trade, Warfare, and Big Men in Pre-Colonial Northern Ghana'
Swanepoel, Natalie. 2009. Every Periphery Is It's Own Center: Sociopolitical and Economic Interacctions in nineteenth-Century Northwestern Ghana. International Journal of African Historical Studies 42:(3) 411-432.
Swanepoel, Natalie. 2008. View from the Village: Changing Settlement Patterns in Sisaland, Northern Ghana. International Journal of African Studies 41(1):1-27
Wilmsen, Dr. Edwin Norman, U. of Edinburgh, Scotland - To aid research on 'Precolonial Botswana Social Formations: Optical Petrography of Pottery and Clays Linking Peoples, Pots, and Places'
DR. EDWIN N. WILMSEN, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, received funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'Precolonial Botswana Social Formations: Optical Petrography of Pottery and Clays Linking Peoples, Pots, and Places.' Clays from 66 locations in Botswana and adjacent parts of Namibia and South Africa were collected for comparison with Iron Age and Historic pottery. In addition, samples of major plant species growing in different parts of the Delta were collected in order to compare their phytoliths with biogenic silica observed in pot shards. Both clay and shard samples were prepared as thin section slides and examined with petrographic microscopes in both plain and cross polarized light. Variations in trace minerals and biosilica in both clays and shards plus the different mineralogical history of different parts of the region allow the identification of the area from which clays to make specific vessels were obtained. These mineralogical data combined with particulars of ceramic design make it clear that vessels circulated between sites in all parts of the region for as far as 400km. That this movement took place despite the fact that at most sites clays were available locally, and pots were made at the individual sites from these clays, points to the mobility of pots being a function mainly of social rather than technological considerations. Further research on contemporary potting will be undertaken; technological variables of potting will be noted, which will add insights into the present work.
Wilmsen, Edwin N., David Killick, Dana Drake Rosenstein, et al. 2009. The Social Geography of Pettery in Botswana as Reconstructed by Optical Petrography. Journal of African Archaeology 7(1):3-39.
Wilmsen, Edwin N. 2009. The Structure of San Property Relations: Constitutional Issues and
Interventionist Politics. Anthropologica 51:53-65.
Wilmsen, Edwin. 2009. Botswana Notes and Records. The Botswana Society: Gaborone.
Wilmsen, Edwin. 2010. Early Villages at Tsodilo: The Introduction of Livestock, Crops, and Metalworking. In Tsodilo Hills: Copper Bracelet of the Kalahari, eds. Alec Campbell, Larry Robbins, and Michael Taylor. Michigan State University Press: East Lansing. The Botswana Society: Gaborone.
Henshilwood, Dr. Christopher, U. of Bergen, Bergen, Norway; and Dr. Francesco d'Errico, U. de Bordeaux 1, Talence, France - To aid collaborative research on use of Nassarius kraussianus shells as ornamentation in southern Africa Middle Stone Age
DR. CHRISTOPHER HENSHILWOOD, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway, and DR. FRANCESCO D'ERRICO, Université de Bordeaux 1, Talence, France, received an International Collaborative Research Grant in October 2006, to aid collaborative research on the use of Nassarius kraussianus shells as ornamentation in southern Africa Middle Stone Age. The aim of this project was to investigate the human use of Nassarius kraussianus (Nk), as ornamentation during the Middle Stone Age and the Later Stone Age in southern Africa. In particular the collaborative research wanted to identify the factors (human choice vs. environmental conditions) playing a role in the size variability of Nk shell beads, and document and identify the causes (taphonomic vs. anthropogenic) of the modifications recorded on archaeological specimens (perforation, pigment staining, color change, use wear, heating). In order to achieve these goals, the researchers used optical and scanning electron microscopy, elemental analysis, and Raman spectroscopy to identify shell structure and composition, document changes under heating at different temperatures and in different environments, and differentiate them from changes produced by diagenetic processes. Optical and electron microscopy was also used to analyze use wear on archaeological and experimentally worn shells. Seven morphological (Perforation Type, Presence/absence of carnivore drills, Color, Location of use-wear, Age-class, State of completeness, Morphology of the Apex) and two morphometric variables (shell height and shell width) were systematically recorded on modern biocoenoses and thanatocoenosis of this species, as well as on two MSA, 37 LSA and seven burial sites (ca 5000 specimens).
Henshilwood, Christopher S., Francesco d?Errico, and Ian Watts. 2009 Engraved Ochres from the Middle Stone Age Levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa. Journal of Human Evolution 57(1):27-47.
Lyons, Dr. Diane Elaine, U. of Calgary, Calgary, Canada - To aid research on 'Edagahamus Potters and the Identity of Stigma'
DR. DIANE E. LYONS, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada, was awarded a grant in October 2008, to aid research on 'Edagahamus Potters and the Identity of Stigma.' In highland Ethiopia, and in many societies in sub-Saharan Africa, artisans are socially marginalized because they are believed to possess dangerous occult powers or because their craft diminishes their social worth. Despite the importance of these practices to the development of social complexity, the history of these practices in Africa is not well understood, partly because the material expression of stigmatized identities are not documented in ways that can be studied by archaeologists. This study investigates the material expressions of the stigmatized identities of female market potters in Tigray State near the market town of Edagahamus in highland Ethiopia. These women experience insults, violence, and discrimination at different levels of political decision-making even though their pots are essential for daily cooking on rural farms. These social practices of stigma are expressed spatially and materially at the household, community, and regional level. In addition, the study determined material ways to identify the Edagahamus pottery-making community from their production practices and from the analyses of material samples of pots, clay, and temper that will provide a physical and chemical 'fingerprint' for archaeologists to study their history in the past.
Mussi, Dr. Margherita, U. of Rome, Rome, Italy - To aid workshop on 'The Emergence of the Acheulean in East Africa,' 2013, U. of Rome, in collaboration with Dr. Rosalia Gallotti
Preliminary abstract: The end of the Oldowan, and the origin of the Acheulean, are widely debated in Early Stone Age studies. In East Africa, there is now solid geochronological evidence pointing to the emergence of the Acheulean between 1.76 and 1.4 Ma. New approaches to lithic collections, including analysis of lithic technology, also put into question previous techno-typological definitions. Doubts have aroused on the hypothesis of a coexistence of Developed Oldowan and Early Acheulean.Despite ongoing discussions, however, the tempo and mode of technological changes leading to the emergence of the Acheulean are still poorly understood. This has wide implications outside Africa, as the Acheulean is also found in Europe and Asia The aim of the proposed workshop is to bring together for the first time researchers currently working in this field in East Africa, in order to define: 1) the characteristics of the Early Acheulean; 2) the evolution of the Early Acheulean.The role of the Early Acheulean in the emergence of the Acheulean outside Africa will not be dealt into any detail. However, the outcome of the workshop will also pave the way to better understanding dispersals into other continents, and/or typo-technological convergences.
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, 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.