Digital Africa

I promised more African related news the other day.  This is perhaps a little less exciting than the other, but still showcases an important development in African Zooarchaeology in its own way.

The 8th Annual African Research Day (AARD) takes place at UCL on 25th-26th November.  At a number of conferences over the past few years it has become increasingly apparent to me, and to others, that the African zooarchaeology community is extremely disparate and can often feel very isolated.  One way to help bridge the geographical gaps between researchers is to make better use of the internet.  At AARD, I shall be co-presenting a poster (with Jim Morris) which introduces one such way to do this – the use of a social network for African zooarchaeologists.  The poster is entitled “iCommunication in African Zooarchaeology” and I have uploaded a copy to my Academia profile.  A copy of the abstract can be found below.

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iCommunication in African Zooarchaeology

The zooarchaeology of the later prehistoric periods in Sub-Saharan Africa is an area which has seen renewed focus in recent years, with sessions on the subject organised at major international conferences in 2008 (SAfA – Frankfurt), 2010 (ICAZ – Paris) and 2012 (SAfA – Toronto). This renewed attention by a new generation of scholars, and their meeting at conferences, has led to an awareness of a need for easier information exchange and support frameworks in an often isolated and disparate community. This poster presents a new internet platform for networking and academic support, creating an online home for that community.


Into Africa

Late on Thursday night, I received the news that our Wenner-Gren Foundation application for funding to carry out work in Tanzania has been accepted.  It’s taken about eighteen months of hard work from various people to make this happen, so naturally we’re all delighted.  The project seeks to identify the emergence of pastoralism in Tanzania and has an international team featuring Mary Prendergast, Audax Mabulla, Oula Seitsonen, Katherine Grillo, Agnes Gidna and Diane Gifford-Ganzalez as well as myself.  I’ve added a page to the website to give an overview of the project for anybody interested in learning a little more about our research aims, and more details will follow here as they’re settled.

More African related news will appear here in the next few days.

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“Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.”

Every year I say I’m not going to TAG.  Last year I ended up running a session there.  This year, I managed to keep to my “not attending” mantra until the end of October.  Then a series of events overtook me and I found that I will be attending, and presenting, again this year after all.

The paper will feature in Jim Leary’s session on the “Archaeology of Mobility” and will be co-presented with Oula Seitsonen (University of Helsinki) and Jean-Luc Houle (University of West Kentucky), examining the issue of mobility in Bronze Age Mongolia.  A full copy of the abstract is given below.

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The Ritual Round

This paper examines the issue of mobility in the context of Bronze Age Mongolia. Recent fieldwork has identified a pattern of seasonal mobility in the Khanuy Valley which shows considerable similarity to present day patterns. Supportive ethnographic work has shown that the issue of mobility is integral to perceptions of identity in the present day population in the same region, and that this mobility is expressed through daily, annual, decadal and generational cycles. The spatial relationship between domestic habitation sites in the region and large-scale monumental complexes suggest that the themes of mobility and liminality were also an intrinsic part of belief systems in the region in the Bronze Age. The theme of movement through the landscape and through the seasons is explored through the analysis of landscape archaeology, ethnoarchaeology and zooarchaeological evidence. It is suggested that understanding past mobilities in the region is crucial to our interpretation of past lifestyles and cultures.