Mehari, Asmeret Ghebreigziabiher, U. of Florida, Gainesville, FL - To aid research on 'Decolonizing the Pedagogy of Archaeology in East Africa,' supervised by Dr. Peter R. Schmidt
ASMERET G. MEHARI, then a student at University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, received funding in October 2009 to aid research on 'Decolonizing the Pedagogy of Archaeology in East Africa,' supervised by Dr. Peter R. Schmidt. This dissertation research explores the nature of archaeology in postcolonial East Africa using Tanzania and Uganda as case studies. Its main focus is analyzing the history and development of practicing and teaching archaeology by African scholars. Particularly, it examines what constitutes local archaeological research and how emerging local professionals contribute towards decolonizing archaeology in the region, meaning creating archaeological practices and pedagogies that are liberated and locally relevant. The methods for collecting relevant information include in-depth interviews with archaeologists, students, local communities, and antiquities and museum officials; archival research at university libraries, museums, and national research clearance institutions; participant observation -attending field schools and class-room based lectures, occasionally delivering lectures to undergraduate students, and living with local communities who reside around archaeological sites. Research findings show that most archaeological research is performed under collaborative projects that are mainly run by European-descendant Africanist scholars. Local Ugandan and Tanzanian scholars are most likely to have a profound influence on decolonizing archaeology through their own self-initiated and administrated projects. The contributions of local scholars vary but predominantly their efforts have been directed to the final product of archaeological research - primarily in the rewritings of African history.
Patterson, David Burch, George Washington U., Washington, DC - To aid research on 'Ecological Niche Evolution in Homo and Paranthropus at East Turkana, Northern Kenya,' supervised by Dr. Rene Bobe
Preliminary abstract: The fossil record suggests that our genus, Homo, originated in eastern Africa around 2.4 million years ago (Ma), at which time our ancestors would have shared the environment with a closely related species, Paranthropus boisei. However, the record indicates that by 1.3 Ma the Paranthropus lineage went extinct and Homo had expanded outside of Africa. Although we understand they coexisted, we lack a relevant framework for testing hypotheses related to their ecologies during this period. The objective of this project is to use the quantitative methods of community ecology and stable isotope geochemistry to contrast the ecological niches of Homo and Paranthropus within a localized paleoecosystem. This study will use data collected directly from hominin localities and archaeological sites between 2 -- 1.4 Ma at East Turkana in northern Kenya to test a series of hypotheses related to the following research question: What role did ecological conditions play in the different fates of Homo and Paranthropus between 2 Ma and 1.4 Ma? This study will create the first high-resolution reconstruction of the niches of these two taxa and provide key insights into the mechanisms behind the survival of our genus on landscapes that witnessed the extinction of our close fossil relatives.
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 increases our understanding of the extent and variability of local human settlement. Additionally, the project's focus on subsistence and specialization provides empirical data about the trajectories of West African pastoralism and agriculture. This information enables discussion of the role of pastoral populations in the Jenné-jeno urban system and impacts our understanding of Jenné-jeno's trade relationships and political organization. Given the unique trajectories of African food production when compared to other world areas, this project is an important contribution to our understanding of variability in global pastoral strategies and mobile-sedentary interactions.
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.
Usman, Dr. Aribidesi A., Arizona State U., Tempe, AZ - To aid research on 'Regional Interaction and Ceramic Distribution in Northern Yorubaland, Nigeria (14th-19th Centuries A.D.)'
DR. ARIBIDESI A. USMAN, of Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, received funding in June 2002 to aid research on 'Regional Interaction and Ceramic Distribution in Northern Yorubaland, Nigeria (14th-19th Centuries AD).' The project was carried out between December 2002 and June 2003. Ten sites from four districts of Igbomina -Erese, Ila, Ilere, and Esisa were examined by survey and excavation to understand how production and distribution of crafts such as ceramics took place in Igbomina. Petrographic, instrumental neutron activation, and ceramic stylistic attributes analyses were employed to identify temper types and size, clay groups, and areas of ceramic concentration. For chronology, charcoal samples provided radiometric dates. From the result, spatially discrete pattern of ceramic temper could be associated with village-to-village variation in ceramic production.. Variation in pottery decoration was observed between the northern and western Igbomina, with striation technique common or restricted to the north, and twisted string roulette as well as varieties of Oyo-Ire diagnostic types to western Igbomina. Instrumental neutron activation analysis identified ceramic reference groups (Ilorin, Ilere, Esisa, and Erese) that can be attributed to specific geographic areas and villages and trade between groups. There appear to be significant differences in trade patterns. In each of the geographic areas of the reference groups, between 72% and 87% of pottery were local. The rest were either local imports (from other geographic areas), or long-distance imports from centers outside Igbomina. Some pottery samples were unassigned to any of the groups, while there are questions as to whether lla-Yara pottery (western Igbomina) and Agunjin pottery (northern Igbomina) were imported or simply made use of clay with chemical similarities with pottery produced elsewhere.
Galloti, Dr. Rosalia, U. of Rome, Rome, Italy - To aid research on 'Technical Behaviors During the Oldowan at Garba IVD (Melka Kunture, Ethiopia)'
DR. ROSALIA GALLOTTI, University of Rome, Rome, Italy, received funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'Technical Behaviors during the Oldowan at Garba IVD (Melka Kunture, Ethiopia).' The site of Garba IVD has yielded one of the richest lithic assemblages in East Africa dated to 1.5-1.4 Ma. This period is crucial to understand the relationship between Oldowan and Early Acheulean and to characterize the diagnostic aspects of these early human activities. The lithic production of Oldowan knappers at Garba IVD denotes an evidence of raw material selection, involving a certain level of knowledge of the effects of volcanic rocks properties. The production of small-medium flakes is the principal goal of the knapping activity. The débitage methods are similar to those identified in other Oldowan East African sites. Obsidian exploitation strategies show a more complex techno-economic pattern. The use of this high-quality raw material is a unicum in the Oldowan framework. The rare and not-systematic production of Large Cutting Tools does not present the same characteristic patterns of the Early Acheulean assemblages in East Africa as specific raw materials procurement modalities and particular processes of core reduction to obtain large blanks. In the end the revision of the Garba IVD assemblage adds new data confirming the idea of a more elaborate and variable Oldowan complex, proposed in recent years by the technological re-examination of other East African penecontemporaneus sites.
Gallotti, Rosalia. 2013. An Older Origin for the Acheulean at Melka Kunture (Upper Awash, Ethiopia): Techno-economic Behaviours at Garba IVD. Journal of Human Evolution 65(5):594-620.