Swanepoel, Dr. Natalie J., U. of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa - To aid 'Biennial Meeting of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA),' 2011, Mbabane, Swaziland, in collaboration with Dr. Mary Thembiwe Russell
Preliminary abstract: The biennial meetings of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists bring together professional archaeologists who live and work in southern Africa, as well as other international scholars whose research interests are centred on the sub-region. The conference provides an invaluable opportunity for these archaeologists to come together to discuss new finds and trends in the discipline with national and international colleagues and to build foundations for cooperative research and the sharing of ideas. Students benefit by interacting with senior members of the discipline. The conference attracts a diverse attendance from archaeologists based at universities, museums, in CRM practice, heritage management and government, thus ensuring the opportunity for real dialogue between practitioners with shared interests, who may not get the opportunity to meet otherwise. The conference programme includes oral and poster presentations, as well as round- table sessions to discuss issues relating to policy and practice. The scope of the conference covers the full span of southern African archaeology, including: current debates around human evolution and behavioural modernity, Stone Age population dynamics, social complexity, and the impacts of colonial settlement and culture contact. In addition, CRM practice, heritage management and the role of archaeology in southern Africa today are discussed.
Wilmsen, Dr. Edwin Norman, U. of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa - To aid research on 'Pottery, Clays, and Lands: An Ethnoarchaeological Study of the Social Dimensions of Pottery in Botswana'
Preliminary abstract: The project has a dual focus: 1. excavation of an Iron Age site and a potting-clay mine; 2. investigation of potting technology and material procurement in the setting of indigenous customary control of resources. A chaîne opératoire study of pottery making, accompanied by an analysis of customary legal structures governing access to resources and their use can begin to bridge the temporal moment between potters of the present and those of the past. The assumption that technology is more enduring than are social institutions - kinship networks, customary legal structures, land tenure entitlements, intergenerational transfer of knowledge, among others - needs to be evaluated for each particular case. We plan to investigate two locations with shorter visits to four others. An investigation of customary legal structures coupled with analyses of materials that are objects embedded in such structures provides an avenue to a clearer view not only of the materials themselves but also of their materiality in their present and past social contexts. By observing a suite of instances of pottery resource procurement and production by speakers of distinct languages we will be able to identify variations in customary processes and extract commonalities for comparison with our archaeologically recovered materials
Haynes, Dr. Gary Anthony, U. of Nevada, Reno, NV - To aid research on 'Later Stone Age Foraging in Northwestern Zimbabwe just before the Transformation to Agropastoralism'
DR. GARY HAYNES, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, received funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'Later Stone Age Foraging in Northwestern Zimbabwe Just Before the Transition to Agropastoralism.' One of the mysteries of human cultural history in much of southern Africa is why (and how) human groups made the dramatic switch from hunting and gathering to farming. This project's study area in northwestern Zimbabwe contains very understudied archeological evidence about the stone-age foragers of distant prehistory, and also just the merest hint of evidence about the farming peoples of a few hundred years ago -- but nearly nothing is known about the critical time period in between. This project aims to provide the missing detail. This project seeks to reconstruct the lifeways of hunter-gatherers in northwestern Zimbabwe 4000-2000 years ago, just before the profound cultural transformation of nomadic foraging systems into a radically different economy of agropastoralism. The study area is situated in a possible corridor of human ideas and population movements into southern Africa from the north, across the Zambezi River. Multi-disciplinary evidence about human adaptation to changing environmental conditions is being sought in the study of sediments and ancient underground water, and in archeological excavations of rockshelters that are yielding enormous amounts of stone tools, bone remains of animals hunted and eaten, ostrich eggshell beads, and charcoal that can be identified to tree species and radiometrically dated.
Lyons, Dr. Diane E., U. of Calgary, Calgary, Canada - To aid the 'Slehleka Pottery Project'
Preliminary abstract: This study investigates material signatures of caste identities of Slehleka market potters in Tigray State in northern highland Ethiopia. Artisan marginalization is found in many societies across sub-Saharan Africa but material means to investigate its history are needed. This study builds upon two previous studies of Tigray's marginalized potters in central and eastern Tigray. Importantly Slehleka potters have a caste identity, which the other two communities did not, and it is anticipated that the study will find important variability in the material and spatial expression of marginalized identities. An important aspect of the study is determining the technological style of the Slehleka potters using the chaine operatoire approach. Their technological style will be compared with those of the other two potter communities to show their relationships. Ultimately the study will provide a full regional perspective of Tigray's contemporary pottery traditions, the material means to investigate the history of marginalized craft practices in Tigray and elsewhere in Africa, and it contributes to our understanding of how marginalized identities and social inequities are materially constituted in peasant communities.
Muia, Mulu, U. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL - To aid research on 'Changes in Lithic Technology and Origin of Modern Human Behavior in Ntuka, Southwest Kenya,' supervised by Dr. Stanley H. Ambrose
MULU MUIA, then a student at the University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, was awarded funding in February 2005 to aid research on 'Changes in Lithic Technology and Origin of Modern Human Behavior in Ntuka, Southwest Kenya,' supervised by Dr. Stanley H. Ambrose. The grant was used: 1) to expand excavations at two sites (GvJh11 and GvJh12) that had been excavated extensively previously, but whose sample size was small; and 2) to carry out new excavations at three other sites (GvJh21, GvJh78 and GvJh81) that had been test excavated. Artifacts recovered were made mostly of obsidian, lava and cherts. Faunal remains were limited mostly to teeth. Analysis of the artifacts sought to understand the process of technological change from the Middle Stone Age (MSA) to the Later Stone Age (LSA). The first step in the analysis focused on recording the various tool classes (the typology) and the raw materials so that the diversity of both in the MSA and LSA can be quantified. To understand raw material procurement strategies, all pieces were examined for cortex. Metric dimensions (length, width, and thickness) for all finished tools were recorded using electronic calipers. Flakes were examined for platform preparation by recording the presence or absence of facets. Where facets were present, they were counted. Platform width, thickness, and angle were recorded to identify flaking techniques.
Russell, Dr. Mary T., U. of the Witwatersrand, Wits, South Africa; and Kiura, Dr. Purity W., Nat'l Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya - To aid collaborative research on 'The Archaeology of Namoratunga I, Lokori, Northern Kenya'
Preliminary Abstract: The site at Namoratunga I in Northern Kenya lends itself to interdisciplinary research as it has archaeological deposit, skeletal remains, rock engravings and possible connections to the Turkana community. Archaeologists working at the site in the 1970s argued that this was the site of a Eastern cushitic pastoralist people. Whilst noting that the Turkana recognised many of the engraved motifs as their own livestock brands, they dismissed a connection to the Turkana. The site may be Eastern Cushite, but the evidence provided at the time (including just one radiocarbon date) was too slight to be conclusive. This site has interesting implications for the spread of pastoralism in Eastern Africa and for the possible identification of a pastoralist rock art. In this project we re-visit the question of the authorship, antiquity and the meaning of the burials and engravings at Namoratunga. The shared motifs on modern skin and ancient rock are intriguing. This may be coincidence, but if not, the use of the same symbols on different surfaces and at different times is interesting in the terms of how, when and why meanings of material culture change or remain unchanged, are shared or not shared by different ethnic and sociopolitical goups.
Braun, Dr. David R., George Washington U., Washington, DC - To aid workshop on 'From a Landscape Perspective: Papers in Honor of Prof. J. W. K. Harris,' 2015, Leakey Foundation, San Francisco, CA, in collaboration with Dr. Emmanuel Ndiema
Preliminary abstract: A central question of anthropology, as a whole, and archaeology in particular, is the way in which humans pattern their activities relative to the geographic distribution of social and ecological contexts. In archaeology this is reflected in the diversity of material culture found at different places in ancient landscapes. The approach focuses on the dynamics of human interaction with specific contextual variables through the examination of the cultural and behavioral ecology of humans across a landscape. Although this approach was recognized as essential to our understanding of the human past in Africa nearly 40 years ago (Isaac and Harris 1980), the results of the major application of this work are only now coming to fruition. This session will present an important review of ecologically based landscape approaches to prehistory with the work of the major session participants representing the application of this methodology from four continents. In addition, this session coincides with the retirement of Professor J. W. K. Harris and the participants of the session reflect the international breadth of his student's and colleague's application of his pioneering work on the interaction between humans and landscapes.
Swanepoel, Natalie J., Syracuse U., Syracuse, NY - To aid research on 'Social and Political Change on the Slave-Raiding Frontier: Nineteenth Century Sisalaland, Northern Ghana,' supervised by Dr. Christopher R. DeCorse
NATALIE J. SWANEPOEL, while a student at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, was awarded a grant in January 2001 to aid research on 'Social and Political Change on the Slave-Raiding Frontier: Nineteenth Century Sisalaland, Northern Ghana,' supervised by Dr. Christopher R. DeCorse. The aim of the research was to investigate the changes that occurred among the Sisala -- a 'decentralized' society during the nineteenth century as a result of increased (slave) warfare and an expanded trade network. Twelve months of archaeological, archival and oral historical research was carried out between April 2001 and August 2002. Archaeological research concentrated on the late nineteenth century site of Yalingbong, a naturally fortified hilltop that was used as a refuge during a war that took place between a local village, Kpan, and the Zaberma, a group of armed, Islamic horsemen. In addition, it was used as a base of operations by the Kpan community in their own raids against neighboring communities while also acting as a trade center in the region. Mapping, surface collections and test excavations were conducted at fourteen of a possible thirty loci. Supported by documentary and oral historical evidence the archaeological finds shed light on the complexity of the domestic slave trade in Africa, the expansion of trade networks in the African interior, the nature of warfare, the impact of colonial administration in northern Ghana and the changing political structure of 'decentralized' societies as a response to increased warfare.
Swanepoel, Natalie. 2006. 'Socio-political Change on a Slave-trading Frontier: War, Trade, and ?Big Men? in Nineteenth Century Sisalaland, Northern Ghana,' pp. 265-294, in Paste Tense: Studies in Conflict Archaeology (I. Banks and T. Pollard, eds.), Brill Academic Publishers: Leiden.