Co-PIsAurore Val and Matthias Blessing (University of Connecticut)
FUNDING INSTITUTIONThe Leakey Foundation and Gerda Henkel Foundation
REFERENCEARIMAS – ARId environments and Modern humans’ Adaptation Strategies
SOUTHern africa

Project Description.

The ARIMAS project searches for traces of early modern humans in southern Namibia and aims at characterizing their interactions with a harsh, semi-arid environment. In 2021, we led a first archaeological survey on the eponym farm to the project, Arimas. This 185 km2 wide farm sits on the edge of the coastal Namib Desert to the west and the Kalahari Desert to the east. It is located 4 km away from Apollo 11 – a site renowned worldwide for having yielded the oldest examples of figurative art in Africa. The 2021 survey at Arimas identified large scatters of stone tools and abundant rock shelters, several of them with sediments and Stone Age artefacts on their surface. These indicate that modern humans and possibly earlier hominins have roamed this landscape potentially as far back as the Middle Pleistocene. We intend to continue surveying the area and conduct excavations at two rock shelters identified as sediment traps during our initial survey. The objective of the ARIMAS project is to understand the modalities of human occupation of the region, and human exploitation of its vegetal, animal and mineral resources within a refined chronological and palaeoenvironmental frame.