Under the direction of Dr. Fiona Marshall MS Darla Dale will collect data for her doctoral dissertation. She will conduct archaeological excavation at the site of Ugunja which is located in western Kenya. Based on her own recent reconnaissance, as well as examination of the artifacts which include pottery, burnt and unburned fish, bird and mammal bone and stone tools, the assemblage appears to relate to a cultural group termed "Kansore", named after the site where it was first defined. Kansyore is poorly characterized because it tends to occur in deeply stratified contexts which, because of overburden, make it difficult for archaeologists to clear large exposures. Without sufficient material in good spatial context it is impossible to attempt social reconstructions. Kansyore, which dates to between 7,000 - 4,000 years before the present is of great anthropological interest because while faunal remains indicate that these groups followed a hunting and gathering way of life, they also produced abundant pottery with complex decoration and this combination is unique. Most hunting and gathering groups lacked pottery and those which possessed it most frequently used utilitarian ware which occurs in sparse amounts. Use of Kansyore pottery suggests a mode of social organization which includes a high degree of sedentization, economic specialization and large group size. Such adaptations are extremely rare among tropical hunters and gathers and are not easily encompassed within current theoretical models. Because the Ugunja site is not too deeply buried, MS Dale will be able to conduct extensive excavation and collect the necessary materials and sample sizes to gain detailed information on subsistence, settlement pattern and, hopefully social organization. She will also provide the first solid dates for the Kansyore culture.

This research is important for several reasons. It will provide data on a poorly known archaeological culture which will be of interest to many archaeologists. It will increase our understanding of human adaptation at a simple level of social organization and it will assist in training a promising young scientist.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
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John E. Yellen
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Washington University
Saint Louis
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