Mijares, Dr. Armand, U. of the Philippines, Quezon City, Philippines; and Detroit, Dr. Florent, Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France - To aid research on 'In Search Of The Early Modern Human Diaspora: The Case Of The Callao Hominin'
Archaeological research on Flores Island, eastern Indonesia, has shown that Island Southeast Asia and especially Wallacea (which also includes the Philippines) have an incredible potential to challenge many of the current theories on human colonization and evolution. The recent discovery of a human 3rd metatarsal in Callao Cave, northern Luzon, Philippines, dated by U-series ablation to 67 kya has further highlighted the fact that much is still to be discovered and learned in this region of the world. The metatarsal has been provisionally identified as that of an anatomically modern human, albeit small in size and with unique characteristics. If confirmed, this discovery will contest our current understanding of the timing of colonization of ISEA by modern humans, and also of the timing of their migration out of Africa. If the remains are eventually classified as another hominin species the research will also have important implications for understanding the evolutionary trajectories of hominin ancestors. It is proposed to continue the morphometric research on the Callao fossil and to expand excavations at Callao cave into other areas of the ante chamber, and to re-excavate previous excavation pits, in order to locate, characterize and develop a better understanding of the human occupation of the caves. This will also provide an opportunity to recover more diagnostic human remains with which we can begin to address these critical questions of hominin colonization of, and evolution within, Island Southeast Asia.
Solangaarachchi, Rose A., U. of Florida, Gainesville, FL - To aid research on 'Ancient Iron Smelting Technology and the Settlement Pattern in the Kiri Oya Basin, in the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Peter R. Schmidt
ROSE SOLANGAARACHCHI, a student at the University of Florida, Gainesville, was awarded a grant in July 2003 to carry out archaeometallurgical research on 'Ancient Iron Smelting Technology and Settlement Pattern on the Kiri Oya Basin in the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka,' under the supervision of Prof. Peter R. Schmidt. Solangaarachchi's objective was to examine the metallurgical and socio-political aspects of ancient iron smelting through various methods of archaeology, and to study historical sources, oral traditions, etc. through methods from other subdisciplines of anthropology. Through her field survey along the Kiri Oya Basin in 2004, she identified more than 90 sites. Ancient iron smelting centers/places, village habitations/settlements, and places connected to religious activities are the three major categories among them. She excavated four different sites - an iron-smelting site, a monastery, a settlement site, and a vava (referring to a man-made reservoir for irrigation purposes). Her aim was to examine the ancient settlement patterns in Sri Lanka as described in ancient chronicles, namely the system interwoven into the settlement, such as monasteries and the man-made reservoirs. This concept can also be applied to the ancient iron smelting settlements in the study region. This project is the first archaeometallurgical study in the Sigiriya-Dambulla region that explores the connection of ancient iron-smelting communities with the landscape in conjunction with the religious-political system of the society. It is also the first archaeological evidence for steel production in this region. Solangaarachchi's preliminary results strongly support her hypotheses: First, that the area's urbanization had been connected with the iron-smelting communities; second, that the settlements of these communities date back to the period before the fifth century AD - not well evidenced in historical sources from the region. Additional support for these findings was obtained through radiocarbon dating. The metallurgical evaluation of the smelting process was done through analyzing the samples collected through excavations as well as explorations in the Kiri Oya Basin. Archival research helped to understand ancient iron-smelting technology and its connection with the sociopolitical organization.
Arzhantseva, Dr. Irina A., Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Moscow, Russia; and Karamanova, Dr. Minsara S., U. of Kyzylorda, Kazakhstan; - To aid research on 'The Origins Of Early Medieval Towns In North-Western Kazakhstan: The Case Of Dzhankent'
Preliminary abstract: This project aims to test hypotheses and provisional ideas about the origins of early medieval towns east of the Aral Sea by a program of archaeological fieldwork at Dzhankent (Kazakhstan). Key questions include the date of the earliest layers of the town, its lay-out, and the structure of its population. These questions will be tackled by targeted excavation within the town, non-destructive prospection of the entire town area and its immediate surroundings, and the excavation of barrows in the vicinity. The results are to be interpreted within the theoretical framework of Central Asian and Western European debates about urban origins and functions in early medieval state formation; these are so far unconnected debates for which this project would provide a first point of contact. The project will be conducted by a team of archaeologists from Kazakh, Russian, British and German institutions with complementary expertise and experience. Location, project design, and a training element involving undergraduate and Ph.D. students are also intended to support the development and institutional foundation of archaeology in western Kazakhstan.
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research
April 18, 2011
Chauhan, Dr. Parth Randhir, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Manauali, India - To aid research on 'Early Pleistocene Environment and Archaeology in Central India'
DR. PARTH R. CHAUHAN, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Manauali, India, was awarded funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Early Pleistocene Environment and Archaeology in Central India.' This project was carried out through collaboration between various institutions in India, Australia, and the USA. The field research has been spent primarily in the Sehore and Hoshangabad Districts of Madhya Pradesh and the chief goal has been to investigate the site of Dhansi in Hoshangabad District. The project intended to investigate the archaeological and geological aspects of the Dhansi site, being one of the first reported archaeological occurrences in a stratified Early Pleistocene context in South Asia. Through excavations, numerous flakes and flake tools on quartzite, chert, and quartz were recovered. Researchers also collected sediment samples for pollen analyses, different geochronological applications including luminescence dating, paleomagnetic dating, and cosmogenic nuclide dating. Carbonate nodules were also collected for stable isotope studies. Finally, a large number of samples were collected for sedimentological analysis of the entire type-section of the Dhansi Formation. The stable isotope studies and the pollen analysis will paleoecologically characterize the only known Early Pleistocene section/context in central India, making it a source of reference in the entire region. The multidisciplinary nature of this project will also allow paleoanthropological comparisons with other parts of the Indian Subcontinent as well as with comparable evidence outside the region.
Gopher, Dr. Abraham, Tel Aviv U., Tel Aviv, Israel - To aid research on 'Man and Environment in the Middle Pleistocene: The Case of Qesem Cave, Israel'
DR. ABRAHAM GOPHER, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel, was awarded a grant in November 2006 to aid research on 'Man and Environment in the Middle Pleistocene: The Case of Qesem Cave, Israel.' The project conducted a detailed dating of the Middle Pleistocene, Late Lower Paleolithic Qesem Cave using U-series dates (U-Th). A series of 54 new MC-ICP-MS dates made on speleothems from the cave clearly indicates that human occupation started between 405 and 313 ka and ended between 220-193 ka. This is one of the most detailed dates set available for a Middle Pleistocene site. It indicates that the cultural sequence, fully assigned to the Acheulo-Yabrudian Cultural Complex is to be dated between ca. 400-200 ka. Additional finds from the cave and this detailed dating provide a potential for reconstructing human evolution and behavior. For example, researchers now use the detailed dating in assessing human remains recently retrieved at Qesem Cave and at the same time to assess finds concerning the contemporaneity of various cultural aspects within the Acheulo-Yabrudian Complex on-site, which may be crucial in interpreting human behavior. The climatic data to be added following the stable isotopes study will enable to test these developments against a clearer environmental context.
Blasco, Ruth, Jordi Rosell, Avi Gopher, and Ran Barkai. 2014. Subsistence Economy and Social Life: A Zooarchaeological View from the 300 kya Central Hearth at Qesem Cave, Israel. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 35:248-268.
Stiner, Mary C., Avi Gopher, and Ran Barkai. 2011. Hearth-side Socioeconomics, Hunting and Paleoecology during the Late Lower Paleolithic at Qesem Cave, Israel. Journal of Human Evolution 60(2):213-233.
Hanks, Dr. Bryan K., U. of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA - To aid research on 'A Bioarchaeological Investigation of Middle Bronze Age Production and Social 'Status' in the Southern Urals, Russia'
DR. BRYAN K. HANKS, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, received funding in October 2006 to aid research on 'A Bioarchaeological Investigation of Middle Bronze Age Production and Social 'Status' in the Southern Urals, Russia.' This research included the post-excavation analysis of 82 human skeletons and a 28,400 square-meter geophysics survey of Kamennyi Ambar 5, a Middle Bronze Age cemetery (2025-1745 cal BC) located in the Southern Ural Mountains of Russia. This cemetery is linked to the Sintashta culture, an archaeological pattern suggestive of endemic regional warfare and large-scale bronze metal production. The bioarchaeological analysis tested this model through evaluating: bone robustness and asymmetry; dental pathology; skeletal pathology; muscle activity markers; and articular faceting. The geophysics survey sought to identify additional unexcavated burial features and ritual complexes. The results of this project have shown a remarkably healthy sample population with no distinctive pathologies, muscle activity markers, or evidence of dietary deficiencies. A high level of sub-adult mortality was noted, but no indications of diseases or trauma-related processes could be found. The geophysics survey has revealed an additional Middle Bronze Age barrow and numerous other possible grave pit features between previously excavated barrow complexes. The final component of this project includes a stable isotopes (carbon and nitrogen) and heavy trace metals analysis (lead and arsenic) of the human remains, which will then be compared with the completed bioarchaeology study to determine community health.
Morrison, Dr. Kathleen D., U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Early Historic Landscapes of the Tungabhadra Corridor, India'
DR. KATHLEEN D. MORRISON, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded a grant in November 2002 to aid research on 'Early Historic Landscapes of the Tungabhadra Corridor, India.' The South Indian Iron Age (c. 1000 BCE-300 CE) was a time of remarkable change in local social lives (with the establishment of institutionalized forms of social inequality), politics (with the growth of regional states), religious practice (with new religious traditions introduced from the north), and settlement (with the initial appearance of large towns). Significantly, this era of radical change was only made possible by transformations in agriculture, especially the adoption of irrigated rice production. With the support of Wenner-Gren, excavations at the large town of Kadebakele have begun to reveal the ways in which residents of southern India coped with these changes and point to some consequences of agrarian change for diet and environment as well as for larger economic and political structures. At around 60 hectares, Iron Age Kadebakele was one of the largest towns in the region; analysis of metals, ceramics, and beads have shown that it was well-connected with distant regions. Research here has also shown some of the unintended consequences of the transition to rice agriculture, including large-scale soil erosion, a process which reduced local vegetational diversity but also created the colluvial soils that allowed later agriculturalists to subsist in the region.
Spengler, Dr. Robert N., Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid workshop on 'Introduction & Intensification of Agriculture in Central Eurasia: Exception to rule or exception that proves rule?,' 2015, Berlin, Germany, in collaboration with Dr. Mayke Wagner
Preliminary abstract: Inner Asia is an anomaly in discourse surrounding social complexity; the early Iron Age is marked by a demographic transition, long believed to be fueled by increased pastoralism. In the rest of the world, agriculture is accepted as a cornerstone to the development of social hierarchy and population growth. One of the least studied parts of the world, in terms of agricultural origins and spread, is also the region that breaks down the classical model of social development -- the exception to the rule. This proposed workshop will bring together scholars from across Europe, Asia, and North America; many of whom would normally not have the opportunity to discuss their mutual research interests in person. These scholars all study the introduction of agriculture and associated social phenomena, such as increased social complexity and demographic shifts; however, they approach these questions with different methodologies, including isotope studies, archaeobotany, palynology, genetics, and the study of archaeological material culture. The ultimate goal of this conference is to pool an international group of scholars to discuss the growing realm of paleoeconomic data coming out of Central Eurasia; these data do not fit the long-held models of economy in the region and demand that a new approach be taken.
Chauhan, Dr. Parth Randhir, Stone Age Institute, Gosport, IN - To aid 'Palaeoanthropological Surveys and GIS Mapping in the Narmada Basin, Central India'
DR. PARTH R. CHAUHAN, Stone Age Institute, Gosport, Indiana, received a grant in October 2006 to aid research on 'Palaeoanthropological Surveys and GIS Mapping in the Narmada Basin, Central India.' Due to future extensive submergence from large-dams in the Narmada Basin, the project's goal was to carry out a systematic survey for palaeoanthropological occurrences in stratified contexts and also create multi-layer Geographical Information System (GIS) maps of known and new find-spots, sites, and localities and associated stratigraphic sections in relation to geological formations of the valley. The field strategy involved locating, mapping and documenting as many sites as possible within an area of 60 sq-km, between the Tawa and Sher tributaries. Using multidisciplinary data, the research team constructed models of land-use patterns during the Paleolithic. For example, the Early Acheulean and Late Acheulean and Middle Paleolithic and Upper Paleolithic are geographically separate, despite shared raw material preference and locations (fine-grained Vindhyan quartzite). Additional work involved preliminary test-excavations or test-trenching at promising sites to understand the stratigraphic context of the associated material (i.e. lithics, fossils, geological features) and absolute dating possibilities. The most significant discoveries include: 1) high density of artifacts at Dhansi (the oldest-known site in the Basin and possibly in India); 2) Late Acheulean artifacts associated with an extensive paleochannel; 3) rare stratified Early Acheulean occurrences; 4) and the most complete Late Pleistocene elephant recovered in buried context.
Patnaik, Rajeev, Parth R. Chauhan, M.R. Rado, B.A.B. Blackwell, et al. 2009. New Geochronolgocal, Paleoclimatological, and Archaeological Data from the Narmada Valley Hominin Locality, Central India. Journal of Human Evolution 56(2): 114-133.