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
Preliminary abstract: The purpose of this workshop is to ensure that that the human capital developed and the lessons learned in the Metolong Cultural Resource Management (MCRM) Project will be of maximum benefit to future archaeological practice in Lesotho. Archaeology in Lesotho has always been carried out by a handful of foreign academics or under the auspices of mine- and dam-building projects. Consequently, much of it has been constrained by limited resources and developer agendas, and national heritage management infrastructure has remained under-developed. From 2008-2012, the MCRM Project conducted by archaeologists at Oxford University represented a sustained effort to address this state of affairs by combining archaeological research with capacity building. Ahead of the Metolong Dam, the MCRM Project launched comprehensive survey, excavation, rock art recording, and living heritage studies, in conjunction with a pioneering training programme for Basotho archaeologists. This workshop therefore has two aims: to discuss the outcomes of Metolong's heritage programme (especially related to past and future projects associated with dams in Lesotho) with an audience of Basotho, South African, and international heritage managers, government representatives, and academics; and to consider how to continue building capacity for Basotho archaeologists through future archaeological projects and regional professional collaborations. The workshop will propose guidelines for heritage management programmes connected with future dam-building operations in Lesotho, which are likely to be extensive, and for archaeological skills transfer programmes; these will be published online in open access format.
Prendergast, Dr. Mary E., St. Louis U. in Madrid, Madrid, Spain; and Mabulla, Dr. Audax, U .of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania - To aid collaborative research on 'Archaeological Investigation of a 'Moving Frontier' of Early Herding in Northern Tanzania'
Preliminary Abstract: This project aims to understand the spread of herding and impacts on foragers in eastern Africa ca. 3000 years ago. Sites with so-called 'Pastoral Neolithic' ceramics, often associated with remains of livestock in Kenya, are found in an area stretching from the Serengeti to the Rift Valley in northern Tanzania. This poorly documented area is usually thought to mark the southern 'boundary' of early pastoralism. The existence and implications of this boundary have not been questioned, and it might be more appropriately thought of as a 'frontier' that may shift, dissolve or solidify depending on the nature of forager-food producer relationships. Thus sites in this area are ideal testing grounds for anthropological theories regarding such contact. We explore the 'moving frontier' of herding through systematic surveys and test excavations in the Manyara and Engaruka basins of the Rift Valley. We aim to: understand how land use varied according to subsistence strategy; refine the local chronology for early herding; examine claims for contact among Rift Valley populations; and elucidate the relationship, if any, between material culture and subsistence. The team includes specialists from Tanzania, Europe and the US who will train Tanzanian students in field methods and materials analyses.
Bernatchez, Jocelyn Anna, Arizona State U., Tempe, AZ - To aid research on 'The Role of Ochre in the Development of Modern Human Behavior: A Case Study from South Africa,' supervised by Dr. Curtis W. Marean
JOCELYN A. BERNATCHEZ, then a student at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, received a grant in October 2010 to aid research on 'The Role of Ochre in the Development of Modern Human Behavior: A Case Study from South Africa,' supervised by Dr. Curtis W. Marean. The presence of ochre in Middle Stone Age (MSA ~250-40ka) sites in southern Africa is often proposed as evidence for symbolism and early modern human behavior. However, there is significant debate about the uses of ochre in the past and whether symbolism is the most appropriate explanation for its presence in these sites. This project focused on the following research question: Within the MSA sites at Pinnacle Point, South Africa, is ochre evidence for symbolic behavior, or were more utilitarian activities involving ochre taking place? Several aspects of the record were studied to test these questions, including geological survey and sourcing attempts of archaeological samples. The acquisition of ochre is typically a highly ritualized activity for recent hunter-gatherer groups when compared to the exploitation of other non-symbolically loaded raw materials (such as stone). An exploitation pattern focusing primarily on distant sources rather than closer sources or a pattern focused on a few deposits when many are available may be suggestive of some symbolic meaning. Twenty-four ochre sources were identified. Using Particle Induced X-Ray Emission (PIXE), it was possible to identify a possible preference for the ochre at one source located approximately 19km from Pinnacle Point.
Stewart, Dr. Brian Alfred, U. of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'The Middle Stone Age of the Lesotho Highlands'
DR. BRIAN AL. STEWART, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom, was awarded a grant in May 2010 to aid research on 'The Middle Stone Age of the Lesotho Highlands.' An understanding of the diversity of early modern human adaptations is compromised by a geographical research bias towards the southern African coasts. This project redresses this by exploring high-altitude landscape use by Middle Stone Age societies in highland Lesotho. The project's mainstays are targeted excavations at two large rockshelters: Melikane and Sehonghong. Wenner-Gren funding supported a series of key scientific analyses on aspects of the sedimentary sequence at Melikane. This helped establish the basic processes responsible for forming this sequence, when these processes occurred and the environmental conditions during these times. The results suggest that although a highly complex interplay of natural and cultural agents generated this sequence, four main depositional types can be distinguished on a sedimentological basis. Human occupation at Melikane occurred in relatively short bursts at 83,000 years ago (ka), 60ka, 50ka, 46-38ka, 24ka, 9ka, 3ka, and several hundred years ago. Wood charcoals from human fires and the isotopic signatures of the sediments show the environment was colder and typically drier than present-day, though it appears the local river was always capable of supporting water-loving trees and shrubs. One hypothesis is that the reliable freshwater provided by the mountains attracted humans to the area during especially dry periods.
Chemere, Dr. Yonatan Sahle, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'A Closer Investigation of Early Complex Projectile Technologies at Porc-Epic Cave and Aduma, Ethiopia'
Preliminary abstract: Complex projectiles (i.e. those delivered using a mechanical propeller) provide broader lethal ranges than throwing spears (i.e. 'simple' projectiles). They are therefore considered decisive for the successful adaptation and dispersal of modern humans during the Upper Pleistocene. The identification of such mechanically projected weapons in deep antiquity has proven difficult, as conclusive evidence indicating the mode of weapon delivery is as yet lacking from the African Middle Stone Age (MSA). Based on indirect evidence, archaeologists suggest that complex projectiles were already used in Africa by 100-50 kya. Suggestions from the Ethiopian MSA sites of Porc-Epic Cave and Aduma particularly derive from several hundred stone points that may have been used to tip arrows and/or darts. However, these inferences rely only on shape, weight, and/or retouch attributes of the stone points, informing on potential (rather than actual) use of the points as complex projectile tips. Considering their adaptive and cognitive implications, an exhaustive investigation of the origin of complex projectiles in Africa remains crucial. With the application of multiple approaches, including the non-subjective fracture velocity method, this study seeks to assess whether some of the MSA stone points from Porc-Epic Cave and Aduma represent early complex projectiles.
Watts, Dr. Ian Douglas Somerled, Independent Scholar, Athens, Greece - To aid research on 'The Antiquity and Behavioural Implications of Pigment Use in the Northern Cape (South Africa),'
Preliminary abstract: The project evaluates claims (Beaumont & Vogel 2006) for pigment use in various Northern Cape (South Africa) Fauresmith and Acheulian assemblages, focussing on the recently dated Kathu Pan and Wonderwerk sequences. These claims challenge current models of the evolution of collective ritual. A preliminary assessment found evidence consistent with Fauresmith use, but Acheulian evidence was more equivocal. The preliminary findings need thorough substantiation and contextualization. Adopting Watts' (2010) descriptive methods, this will largely be done through examination of all the relevant collections to identify and characterize potential pigments, traces of utilization, and whether these are consistent with pigment use. It will be complemented by limited experimental work evaluating taphonomic processes on colour stability and whether corrosion of ground facets precludes inferring utilization. Field surveying will attempt to identify potential parent rocks, while limited chemical and mineralogical analyses will augment characterization and comparison of field and archaeological samples. Apart from evaluating existing claims, the study will provide a basis for testing predictions derived from the Female Cosmetic Coalitions model of the evolution of symbolic culture (Power 2009), regarding the timing of initial use, colour selection, and the timing of a predicted shift from irregular/localized use to regular and ubiquitous use.
Grillo, Katherine Mary, Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'Containing Life: Perspectives on Pastoralist Pottery in East Africa,' supervised by Dr. Fiona B. Marshall
KATHERINE M. GRILLO, then a student at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, was awarded funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'Containing Life: Perspectives on Pastoralist Pottery in East Africa,' supervised by Dr. Fiona B. Marshall. This project aims to provide archaeological insight into the complex relationships between mobile pastoralism and pottery production, use, and exchange. Food production in Africa followed a unique pathway: cattle pastoralism developed long before agriculture. Although pottery is very often associated with some degree of sedentism and agricultural production, little research has examined the ways in which the material cultures of mobile pastoral societies are represented in the archaeological record. Many archaeologists simply assume such groups are either incapable or unwilling to produce substantial amounts of pottery at all. However, this research has helped to describe and explain for the first time how ceramic production and use can be deeply economically, politically, and ideologically integrated into even highly mobile pastoralist societies. Ethnoarchaeological research was conducted among Samburu cattle pastoralists in northern Kenya, and collections-based research at the Nairobi National Museum provided a comparative case study in how the earliest pastoralists in East Africa utilized pottery as part of both their domestic and ceremonial lives. Ultimately this project will provide an empirically rigorous and ethnoarchaeologically grounded basis for interpreting pastoralist pottery found in archaeological contexts, advancing ongoing studies of the nature and spread of early food-producing communities throughout the Pastoral Neolithic of eastern Africa.
Kelly, Dr. Kenneth, U. of South Carolina, Columbia, SC; and Fall, Dr. Elhadj Ibrahima, University Nelson Mandala, Conakry, Guinea - To aid Landlords & Strangers: Entanglement, Archaeology & The 19th Century 'Illegal' Slave Trade On The Rio Pongo, Guinea.
Preliminary abstract: This proposal aims to conduct archaeological work at 3 19th c sites along the Rio Pongo in Guinea, to explore the cultural entanglement manifest in the interaction of European and American traders with local elites, and the impacts of the slave trade on local societies. Following the early 19th c. close of the slave trade, the 'illegal' slave trade shifted away from the long-standing entrepots of the Slave and Gold coasts to the Upper Guinea coast. Taking advantage of the traditional 'landlord/stranger' relationships of obligation, European and American traders established a series of trading 'factories' linked with local, small scale polities. These traders married into local elite families, creating trader elite lineages that controlled the trade in captives and commodities. We will: 1) document and examine discrete archaeological contexts; 2) map changes in social organization and economy through an analysis of material culture; and 3) situate these changes in light of the traditional 'landlord-stranger relationship' of elite obligation to host foreign traders (Mouser 1973). Success of this project requires collaboration which marries the methodological strengths of Kaba, trained in archaeology and a museum and heritage preservation professional and ethnographer since 1981, and Kelly, who has conducted archaeological research investigating the entanglements of the African Diaspora in Africa and Caribbean settings for over 25 years. This project has broad implications for anthropological research: 1) we document the dynamics of the 'illegal' trade for which the archival record is incomplete, and yet was an important part of the African Diaspora of the 19th c; 2) we contribute to current conversations about cultural identities, and the role material culture plays in the their expression; 3) we investigate the strategies employed in the negotiation of cultural entanglements; and 4) we contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the political economy of the slave trade and its impact on the Upper Guinea Coast.
Prendergast, Mary Elizabeth, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Forager Variability on the Eve of Food Production: Kansyore Subsistence Strategies in Kenya and Tanzania,' supervised by Dr. Richard Henry Meadow
MARY E. PRENDERGAST, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded a grant in April 2006 to aid research on 'Forager Variability on the Eve of Food Production: Kansyore Subsistence Strategies in Kenya and Tanzania,' supervised by Dr. Richard Henry Meadow. This research involved excavation and/or analysis of seven archaeological sites in western Kenya and northern Tanzania, dated to 8,000-1,200 years ago. The common link between these sites, despite spanning a large geographic area and nearly seven millennia, is that they contain a pottery tradition called Kansyore. Kansyore ceramics have been postulated by others to be associated with 'delayed-return' hunter-gatherers, who should have differed markedly from 'immediate-return' hunter-gatherers known from modern ethnographies. The primary research goal was to test this hypothesis by using animal bone remains to understand diet. The surprising results show that, while the occupants of Kansyore sites in western Kenya were indeed specialized (and probably moderately delayed-return) fisher-hunters, they were also the first to adopt herding in this area. This contradicts assumptions that new ceramic traditions and domestic animals entered the region together. The northern Tanzanian sites produced a more complex picture, in which hunter-gatherers and herders appear to have lived side-by-side ca. 2000-1200 BP, using the hill and lakeshore landscapes differently. At two of these sites, ceramic traditions usually linked to herders are found associated with the remains of wild animals, suggesting that we must decouple conventional associations between material culture and economy.