Steven Goldstein

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Washington U., St. Louis

Grant number

Gr. 9410

Approve Date

April 18, 2017

Project Title

Goldstein, Dr. Steven T., Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'Social Resilience and Climate Change: Archaeological Investigations of Hunter-gatherer Responses to the African Humid Period at Lake Turkana, Kenya'

Preliminary abstract: This collaborative multi-disciplinary archaeological project uses Resilience Theory (RT) to frame an investigation of hunter-gatherer responses to environmental shifts during the African Humid Period (AHP; ~12000-5000 BP) around Lake Turkana, NW Kenya. Within the generally warm, wet conditions of the AHP, both subtle and dramatic changes in rainfall affected lake levels and local ecologies. RT theory suggests that hunter-gatherers could have responded to these changes either by ‘doubling down’ on existing strategies (prolonged conservation) or changing their subsistence economy & technology (reorganization). Each choice would affect behavioral repertoires and condition social management of future challenges- including the sharp decline in rainfall and lake level ~5000 BP, which coincides with the arrival of both early food-production and monumental mortuary construction. On Turkana’s paleoshore, the archaeological site of Lothagam-Lokwam preserves a depositional sequence spanning the AHP, making it an ideal site to investigate the inter-relations between environmental shifts, economic strategies, and social change. This project tests two hypothesis generated from an RT theoretical perspective: 1) Hunter-gatherers at Lothagam experienced frequent environmental changes through the AHP; 2) These groups responded to Holocene climate change with rapid economic re-organization through the AHP, rather than commit to lifeways requiring increasing economic intensification. Data from targeted excavations will generate chronological and environmental framework for what hunter-gatherers living near Lake Turkana experienced during the AHP, and analyses of existing lithic and faunal assemblages will address the strategic responses of these communities.