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.
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.
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