The blog posts in the “Kenya” category document Kathleen Ryan’s research project on the Laikipia Plateau of Kenya from April 21 through May 11, 2010.
After visiting the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi, we move on to Laikipia where Dr. Ryan begins excavation of five possible sites. One site will be a Later Stone Age hunter-gatherer rock shelter, and the other will be an early neolithic boma (or agricultural settlement). The researchers attempt to find links within the material culture from both of these site to shed light on the transition from hunter-gatherer society to the advent of a pastoralist economy that involved the domestication of livestock.
From there, we move on to Maasailand within Amboseli National Park where Dr. Ryan is also engaged in ethnobotanical research. Paul Kunino describes the medicinal uses of the different plants for both humans and animals. We also be visit the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage.
It is my hope that my footage of the excavation and the Maasai people can be used in both educational outreach programs and within the African Gallery exhibition at the Penn Museum.
Jen is the photographer at the Penn Museum. She will be accompanying the team again this year, as she did during the 2009 Season. Last year, Jen photographed the research project that is highlighted on the Penn Museum flickr page. Jen visited the Elephant Orphanage where she “adopted” an elephant for her children’s class. The orphanage has been sending progress reports and photos of the elephant’s progress over the past year and the students love having a distant pachyderm relative to look after. Jen also developed an educational program for K-12 students in which she dresses the kids in Maasai robes and jewelry and gives a photographic account of life in Maasailand. This year we hope to supplement her program with a video component as well.
Chris is an archaeologist with the National Museums of Kenya. He is being trained as a faunal analyst by Paul Watene.
Amy is the Digital Media Developer at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. She will produce a documentary about the research project and she will be writing the “Digging Kenya” blog.
Bill Fitts is an archaeological consultant specializing in surveying, GIS, and spatial analysis. He has conducted many archaeological surveys and consulted with numerous projects throughout the world. He started working with Kathleen Ryan in 2001 when they conducted an ethno-archaeological survey of four Maasai bomas on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. Since then he has worked with Kathleen to study the adoption of pastoralism in Laikipia, Kenya.
Simon Katisya is an archaeologist associated with the National Museums of Kenya. He was trained by Richard Leakey. He is an expert in lithic technology. He has spent many year training students at the Koobi Fora Field School.
Dr. Mulu Muia is an archaeologist with the University of Nairobi. He also has an affiliation with the National Museums of Kenya. He is an expert in lithic technology and has worked with the Penn Museum team as Field Director of the Laikipia Porject.
Kathleen Ryan is Proejct Director of the Laikipia Archaeological Investigations, a follow-up to her study of Maasai pastoralists in southern Kenya.
Paul Watene is an archaeologist associated with the National Museum of Kenya. He was trained by Richard Leakey and has spent many years training students at the Koobe Fora Field School.