Manthi, Dr. Fredrick Kyalo, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya - To aid engaged activities on 'Public Engagement in Palaeontological Investigations of the Plio-Pleistocene Nachukui Formation, Northern Kenya,' 2013, Turkana County, Kenya
DR. FREDRICK MANTHI, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya, received an Engaged Anthropology Grant in August 2012 to aid 'Public Engagement in Palaeontological Investigations of the Plio-Pleistocene Nachukui Formation, Northern Kenya.' The Lake Turkana Basin in northern Kenya has contributed significantly to understanding the evolution of human and non-human species during the Plio-Pleistocene. Although prehistory research has been carried-out in the Basin for over 50 years, a large number of the local people are not aware of the scientific importance of the findings from this research. In fact, many of the local people believe that researchers make a lot of money from fossils and artifacts. In the last six years, the grantee has directed palaeontological investigations in the Lake Turkana Basin, aided in part with funding from Wenner-Gren. In the course of these expeditions, it became evident that there was need for more engagement between research groups and the local people. Funding went to organize an outreach program in February 2013 that entailed holding public meetings, visits to schools and discussions with local administrators, which were all centered on the importance of prehistory research in understanding the past and (it is hoped) helped lay the foundation for future engagements advancing research in the Turkana Basin.
Schrire, Dr. Carmel, Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid 'Analysis and Interpretation of Archaeological Residues from Excavations at the Castle of Good Hope, Cape, South Africa'
DR. CARMEL SCHRIRE, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, was awarded funding in June 2003, to aid 'Analysis and Interpretation of Archaeological Residues from Excavations at the Castle of Good Hope, Cape, South Africa.' The Castle of Good Hope, in Cape Town South Africa, was built and occupied by the officials of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) 1666-1795 at their refreshment station for their European-Indies trade. Archaeological materials excavated between 1988-92 have been analyzed and reveal that all sites are secondary deposits showing a sequence of ceramics, glass and fauna. Imported and locally made ceramics reveal the class distinctions inherent in official and private trade practices. Analysis of faunal remains reveals dietary and stock management practices, that evolved in the course of the dispossession of indigenous pastoralists. They contrast markedly with Dutch customs in Europe. The absence of a dairy industry here, coupled with evidence of an Indonesian cuisine, reveals the very distinctive nature of the Creole society that formed at the Cape under VOC rule. The results of this work form a valuable comparative data base for studies of the material signature of European expansion in the 17th-18th centuries.
Bugarin, Dr. Flordeliz T., George Washington U., Washington, D.C. - To aid research and writing on 'The Archaeology of Trade: Economic and Cultural Changes on the South African Xhosa Frontier' - Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship
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.