Université de Bordeaux
LabEx LaScArBxCluster of Excellence
Cluster of excellence

CUMILA - CUltural Innovations in the MIddle and LAter Stone Age of East Africa: Panga Ya Saïdi, Kenya

projet porté par : Francesco d'Errico, PACEA

durée : 2 ans 

financement : 71015€

partenaires : UMR 5060 IRAMAT-CRP2A, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (Jena, Germany)

mots clés : Beads, bone tools, manuports, ochre pigments, non-destructive spectroscopy, microscopy, technology, use-wear, reference collections, raw material sourcing, symbolic behaviour.

Our species, Homo sapiens, began to emerge in Africa as early as 350,000 years ago, but associated material culture does not demonstrate a simple linear progression towards cultural adaptations comparable to those of historically known hunter-­gatherers.  This pattern suggests that the emergence of “modern culture” is the outcome of complex and nonlinear  evolutionary  trajectories,  influenced  by environmental,  demographic, and social factors that need to be understood and traced at regional scales. In particular, we are still far from understanding when and how key cultural innovations emerged in eastern Africa, what kind of form did they take, how did they evolve and how did they change the life of Middle and Later Stone age populations inhabiting the region.

The objective of this project is that of documenting the emergence and long-‐term evolution of personal ornamentation,  bone technologies,  and ochre use in eastern Africa. To achieve  this goal we propose  to conduct  a comprehensive  and integrated  study of personal ornaments, bone artefacts, modified ochre lumps and manuports from the MSA and LSA layers of the Panga Ya Saïdi (PYS) site, Kenya.

We will apply to the relevant archaeological material from this site and to geological and malacological reference collections a combination of analytical techniques that will allow us to study the full  chaîne opératoirof activities related to the procurement, modification, utilization, and disposal of the raw materials used in those activities. We will explore changes through time in these practices to understand the impact of these innovations on Middle and Later Stone Age societies and infer concomitant changes in modes of culturaltransmission, social complexity, and change networks. 

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