Semaw, Dr. Sileshi, Stone Age Institute, Gosport, IN - To aid the 'Gona Palaeoanthropological Research Project'
DR. SILESHI SEMAW, Stone Age Institute, Gosport, Indiana, was awarded funding in November 2009, to aid the 'Gona Palaeoanthropological Research Project.' The Gona Palaeoanthropological Research Project, Afar, Ethiopia, is known for yielding a large number of stone artifacts and associated fragmentary fossil bones dated to 2.6 Ma, which are the oldest well documented archaeological materials in the world. In part funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Gona archaeology team continued fieldwork in 2010 and discovered stone artifacts with extraordinary information from newly opened excavations at the site of OGS-7 (in the Ounda Gona South area). The newly excavated stone artifacts include the first hammerstone to ever be found with the earliest archaeological materials dated to 2.6 Ma, more than a dozen cores (some radially-worked), a pick-like core, a large number of débitage (including whole flakes and angular fragments) and associated fragmentary fossil bones. The stone artifacts were recovered within fine-grained sediments and their condition was very fresh. Further, the Gona archaeology team conducted extended systematic surveys in the older deposits dated between 2.6-3.0 Ma to document the presence of any stones/bones modified as a result of hominid activities. The team collected several fossil fauna, but no modified stones/bones were encountered in these deposits. Based on the abundance of archaeological sites documented at 2.6 Ma at Gona and the superior knapping skills shown on the techniques of the manufacture of these artifacts, it is possible that the beginnings of the use of flaked stones may go back further in time, probably as early as 2.9 Ma. The last fossil evidence for Australopithecus afarensis is dated to 2.9 Ma, and it is likely that a new hominid species that evolved after the demise of A. afarensis could have begun manipulating stones, eventually discovering sharp cutting tools from stones probably used for activities related to animal butchery. Recently the Dikika Project (located south of the Gona study area) announced 3.4 Ma fossil bones that the team claims to have been intentionally modified by A. afarensis. However, this claim cannot be scientifically substantiated because it was based on two surface collected bones with no geological context, and with no evidence of a single stone artifact to back it up. In addition, the cutmark evidence from Dikika was challenged, and a number of experts in taphonomy believe that the modifications exhibited on the bones represent evidence that is typical of trampling. Therefore, currently Gona is the only site that has yielded scientifically proven stone artifacts and fossil bones that are the oldest documented in the world.
Simpson, S.W., L. Kleinsasser, J. Guade, N.E. Levin, W.C. McIntosh, N. Dunbar, S. Semaw, M.J. Rogers. 2015. Late Miocene Hominin Teetch from the Gona Paleoanthropological Research Project Area,
Afar, Ethiopia. Journal of Human Evolution 81:68-82
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.
Tryon, Christian A., U. of Connecticut, Storrs, CT - To aid research on 'The Acheulian to Middle Stone Age Transition in the Southern Kapthurin Formation, Kenya,' supervised by Dr. Sally McBrearty
CHRISTIAN A. TRYON, while a student at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut, was awarded a grant in June 2001 to aid research on the Acheulean to Middle Stone Age transition in the southern Kapthurin Formation, Baringo, Kenya, under the supervision of Dr. Sally McBrearty. Excavations at Koimilot (GnJh-74) have revealed two stratified, in situ, early Middle Stone Age (MSA) archaeological assemblages in the southern Kapthurin Formation. Tephrostratigraphic correlation has shown that these assemblages are the youngest known from the formation and overlie a sequence of interstratified Acheulean, Sangoan, and MSA sites dated by 4OArp/39Ar to more than 284,000 years ago. The Kapthurin Formation preserves one of the few well-dated, continuous sedimentary and archaeological sequences appropriate for assessing the nature of the Acheulean-MSA transition, a technological shift reflecting profound behavioral changes in the later middle Pleistocene, the likely time and place of the appearance of modern humans. Preliminary sedimentological data from Koimilot, artifact size and distribution studies, and analysis of refitted flakes suggested an intact flaking floor at Koimilot Locus 1, with hominid activities directed toward raw material acquisition and the production of typically oval flakes by Levallois methods. The stratigraphically younger Koimilot Locus 2 showed a technology that targeted the production of large Levallois points or elongated flakes. These data suggested a diversification during the early MSA of methods initially developed within the local Acheulean. Additional landscape-scale studies of sites and paleoenvironmental features linked through tephrostratigraphic studies were expected to contribute to an understanding of this variability and to facilitate extraregional comparisons of the end of the Acheulean.
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.
LeJeune, Colin Thomas, U. of Illinois, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Interaction, Change, and Ceramic Variation along Coastal Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand, AD100-1500,' supervised by Dr. Sloan R. Williams
Preliminary abstract: This research project examines the relationship between interregional maritime exchange, socio-political change, and the organization of daily life in pre-modern coastal Nakhon Si Thammarat province, Thailand. It combines archaeological research methods and statistical analysis to first define and then interpret the significance of local ceramic and other material production and consumption patterns present along coastal Nakhon Si Thammarat between AD 100 and 1500 in relation to regional trajectories of socio-political and economic development, and integration with wider maritime Asia. Conclusions drawn from this process are used to evaluate if and how shifts in the organization and relations of daily life contributed to the ability of the emergent coastal trading societies of pre-modern Peninsular Thailand, and pre-modern maritime Southeast Asia more broadly, to successfully mobilize international connections and exchanges toward their own development. In doing so, it contributes to understanding of the ways local societies approach global engagement, and modelling of the link between interaction and societal change.
Mitchell, Dr. Peter, U. of Oxford, UK - To aid workshop on 'Advancing Archaeology & Heritage in Lesotho: Lessons from the Metolong Dam Cultural Resource Management Project,' 2014, National U. of Lesotho, Roma, in collaboration with Dr. Rachel King
'Advancing Archaeology & Heritage in Lesotho: Lessons from the Metolong Dam Cultural Resource Management Project'
July 10-12, 2014, National University of Lesotho, Roma, Lesotho
Organizers: Peter Mitchell and Rachel King (U. Oxford)
The workshop was convened to discuss the outcomes of the Metolong Cultural Resource Management (MCRM) Project associated with western Lesotho's Metolong Dam, and their relevance for heritage management in Lesotho. With its broad mandate and long tenure (from 2008-2012), the MCRM Project has completed excavations of Middle and Later Stone Age and Iron Age sites, rock art recording and removal, archival and intangible heritage assessments, and has trained ten Basotho archaeologists in a range of field skills. These accomplishments are major improvements on earlier dam-related cultural resource management in Lesotho, and this workshop was held to discuss the applicability of its outcomes to similar future projects. The meeting thus had two aims: 1) to discuss the outcomes of Metolong's heritage program with an audience of Basotho, South African, and international heritage managers, government representatives, and academics; and 2) to identify future directions for similar projects that productively combine archaeological research with local capacity-building initiatives. Importantly, this workshop was partly conducted by graduates of Metolong's training program, who have formed the Lesotho Heritage Network (lesothoheritage.wordpress.com), which allowed them to make valuable professional connections and to draw out those issues that they think are most relevant for their future as Lesotho's largest body of professional heritage managers. Workshop outcomes included specific recommendations with a focus on coupling responsible heritage management protocols with capacity building, applicable to: governmental measures to make heritage consultation compulsory in construction schemes; southern African professional archaeological associations pursuing accreditation schemes for field trainees and technicians; and the potential for training Basotho heritage managers in specific skills as part of modules within the National University of Lesotho or Morija Museum and Archives.
Barham, Dr. Lawrence S., U. of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom - To aid 'Excavation and Dating of the Oldowan Industry in the Luangwa Valley, Zambia'
DR. LAWRENCE S. BARHAM, of the University of Bristol in Bristol, England, received funding in July 2003 to aid excavation and dating of the Oldowan tool industry in the Luangwa Valley, Zambia. The Luangwa rift valley in eastern Zambia is the setting for a five-year archaeological and paleoenvironmental project, the aim of which is to develop a chronology of human use of the valley from the first stone tool makers to the first farmers. Artifacts representing all the major phases of the African Stone Age have been found there, including Oldowan cores and flakes, Acheulean bifaces, Middle Stone Age points, and Late Stone Age microliths, as well as the distinctive geometric rock art of central Africa. Early and later Iron Age settlements have also been located. Archaeologists have not systematically studied the valley, but research elsewhere in Zambia points to the region as a possible refuge for humans during the prolonged arid periods that characterized Pleistocene glacial cycles. The Luangwa River, with its many tributaries, lagoons, and nearby hot springs, may have provided critical food resources for hunter-gatherers throughout the last two million years. One aim of the project is to test this hypothesis by looking for continuity in occupation during known arid phases. The valley also forms a natural corridor linking eastern and southern Africa, making it a likely route of dispersal for early hominids and later humans, including farmers. In this first season, with a team of seven students, Barham sampled six sites covering key periods in the region's prehistory. Specialists from the universities of Lancaster (V. Karloukovski, paleomagnetism) and Edinburgh (W. Phillips, cosmogenic nuclides) took samples for dating.
Pobiner, Briana L., Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid research on 'Oldowan Hominid Carnivory: Bone Modification Studies at Koobi Fora and Olduvai Gorge,' supervised by Dr. Robert J. Blumenschine
Pobiner, Briana L., Michael J. Rogers, Christopher M. Monahan, and John W.K. Harris. 2008. New Evidence for Hominin Carcass Processing Strategies at 1.5 Ma, Koobi Fora, Kenya. Journal of Human Evolution 55(1):103-130
Cancellieri, Dr. Emanuele, U. di Roma, Rome, Italy - To aid research on 'Dating the Spread of the Aterian in the Central Sahara'
Preliminary abstract: Timing and routes of dispersal of H. sapiens across and out of the African continent are hotly debated. There is increasing evidence about a possible Saharan 'corridor' mostly based on environmental data, but archaeological data are scanty. The project principal aim is the acquisition of a new set of luminescence datings from selected MSA sites in SW Libya. The need for a refined chronology , especially for the Aterian of the Central Sahara, is nowadays crucial to track the spread of modern humans across North Africa in the late Quaternary given a) its sub-Saharan Middle Pleistocene likely origin and b) its early occurrence (MIS 6/5) in the Maghreb. The research will be conducted in the Fezzan region and will target two cave sites (Uan Afuda and Uan Telocat) in the Tadrart Acacus mountain range and one open-air site (01/134) in the Erg Titersin, NW of Acacus. The Uan Afuda MSA sequence has been already dated in the nineties but with as large sigmas as to justify a new dating. The material from Uan Telocat is unpublished and no dating was performed. At site 01/134 Aterian artefacts were recognized to lie beneath lacustrine levels. The excavation of a small trench at each site will provide soil samples to be dated by OSL and TL, as well as a new set of archaeological material useful to refine cultural and behavioral aspects.
Smith, Abigail Chipps, Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'Mobility and Urbanism: The Place of Mobile Pastoralists in Mali's Iron Age Cities,' supervised by Dr. Fiona B. Marshall
ABIGAIL C. SMITH, then a student at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, was awarded funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Mobility and Urbanism: The Place of Mobile Pastoralists in Mali's Iron Age Cities,' supervised by Dr. Fiona B. Marshall. This project investigates the relationship between mobile pastoral groups and urban populations in the past, focusing on the site of Jenné-jeno and its surrounding landscape. The project draws on four months of extensive excavation at two archaeological sites, Tato à Sanouna and Thiel, near the modern town of Djenné in Mali's Inland Niger Delta. Multiple lines of evidence are used to identify past modes of life in these sites and at the well-known ancient city of Jenné-jeno between about 200 to 1500 CE, particularly the interrelationship between sedentary urbanism, subsistence specialization, and mobile pastoralism. As the first large-scale excavation of smaller, outlying sites in the area, this project increase