Jennifer Chiappardi, Photographer, and Amy Ellsworth, Digital Media Developer at the Penn Museum will be documenting the 2010 season of the Laikipia Archaeological Project in Kenya. Led by Dr. Kathleen Ryan, the research team will be excavating settlements from 2000 – 3000 BCE on the Laikipia Plateau in north central Kenya, overlooking the Rift Valley.
Amy Ellsworth will be blogging about the project at www.penn.museum/blog/kenya
The team will also travel south to Maasailand where Dr. Ryan is also engaged in ethnobotanical research. The team will document translator, Paul Kunoni describing the medicinal uses of various plants for both humans and animals. The team will also visit the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, where they will "adopt" an elephant for the Penn Museum.
The Laikipia Archaeological Project focuses on the more recent period of transition from the Later Stone Age (LSA) to the Pastoral Neolithic (PN) 4,000 to 5,000 years ago, when the first cattle herding groups entered Laikipia and interacted with the indigenous hunter-gatherers. Until recent decades, surprisingly little research had been conducted on the origins and spread of cattle herding in Africa. Although cattle domestication is believed to have occurred in Africa roughly 9,000 years ago, cattle pastoralism in East Africa began several millennia later, between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago, when the first cattle herding groups moved south into what is now Kenya. This period of transition–when indigenous hunter-gatherers and cattle herders first interacted in Laikipia–is the main focus of the investigations.