Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationGeorge Washington U.
Grant numberGr. 9663
Approve DateApril 18, 2018
Project TitleReeves, Jonathan S., George Washington U., Washington, DC - To aid research on 'A Novel Framework for Documenting Time-averaged Patterns of Hominin Land Use in the Early Pleistocene,' supervised by Dr. David R. Braun
Preliminary abstract: The timeframe between 1.8 and 1.4 million years ago is a critical period in human evolution as several evolutionary milestones occur. During this time, the human lineage undergoes dietary shifts, develops new stone tool technologies, and expands outside of Africa. The emergence of these events within the context of the aridification and expansion of grassland ecosystems has been argued as evidence for increased ecological flexibility within the genus Homo. It is possible to document this flexibility by comparing the land use patterns of hominins that occupied landscapes with different environments. Archaeology has developed a variety of analytical frameworks for documenting past traces of hominin behavior at the landscape scale. However, drawing behavioral inferences from these datasets have proven difficult due to a mismatch in the temporal resolution of the Early Pleistocene behavioral record and the analogs we use to interpret it. This project builds an analytical framework by which hypotheses regarding time-averaged hominin land use patterns can be generated and tested. In doing so, this work combines agent-based modeling with measures of stone tool utilization and transport to characterize hominin land use through the lens of movement. This framework is then applied to time-averaged lithic assemblages to characterize land use patterns from two paleoenvironmentally distinct landscapes from Koobi Fora, Kenya. These data are mapped on to raw material source and paleogeographic data to test whether documented differences in land use patterns are the result paleoenvironmental variation. Preliminary results of this work indicate that this project has great potential to provide new insights in hominin ecology and evolution.