Amanda Leiss

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Yale U.

Grant number

Gr. 9660

Approve Date

April 18, 2018

Project Title

Leiss, Amanda C., Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Paleoenvironmental context of ESA Archaeology: An Analysis of Gona Fuana between 3-1 Ma.,' supervised by Dr. Eric Sargis

AMANDA C. LEISS, then a graduate student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, received a grant in April 2018 to aid research on “Paleoenvironmental context of ESA Archaeology: An Analysis of Gona Fuana between 3-1 Ma.,” supervised by Dr. Eric Sargis. This project investigates the paleoenvironment between ~3 – 1 million years ago (Ma), to provide a better understanding of the context surrounding the origin of our genus Homo, evolution of Homo erectus, and the development of the Oldowan and Acheulian stone tool technologies. The aims of this project were to reconstruct the paleoenvironment through stable isotope, ecomorphological, and faunal abundance analyses to test for patterns of environmental change corresponding to these behavioral and anatomical changes. Wenner-Gren funding supported the collection and analysis of >300 fossil enamel samples from eight taxonomic families for δ13Cenamel isotope analysis; which reflects the amount of C3 (trees, bushes, and shrubs) and C4 (grasses and sedges) resources in an animal’s diet. These data were compared through four units, between archaeological and paleontological assemblages, and to contemporaneous data. The mix of browsers and grazers present indicate a variety of environments throughout all time bins. Gona was predominately C4 and more enriched than contemporaneous localities. Statistically significant increases in C4 between the units and fossil localities provide evidence for heterogeneity in the East African Rift Valley, the importance of C4 resources (or the animals consuming them) to human evolution, and suggest a behavioral shift in hominins ~ 2 Ma.