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Watts, Ian Douglas Somerled

Grant Type: 
Post-Ph.D. Research Grant
Status: 
Active Grant
Approve Date: 
April 11, 2012
Project Title: 
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.