PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORAnastasia Eleftheriadou (PI), Erich Fisher (Co-PI)
FUNDING INSTITUTIONThe Leakey Foundation, F.Leakey-Geo-archaeoinformatic approaches-10ID00213
REFERENCEGeo-archaeoinformatic approaches and multiscale mapping of coastal paleosols and archaeology in eastern South Africa
DURATION3/1/2023 – 5/31/2024
Southern africa

Project Description.

Coastal resources may have had a significant impact on modern human cognition and survival. However, the lack of records dating back to glacial periods makes it difficult to understand the long-term evolutionary consequences of living in coastal zones. These gaps are being filled in Mpondoland, on South Africa’s east coast, where researchers have documented numerous fossil soils (paleosols) dating from the Early to the Later Stone Age, indicating that humans stayed in a coastal context during glacial periods. However, these sites are scarce and have not undergone systematic study. The aim of this project is to discover exposed archaeological sites along the coast and understand the processes that affect their preservation and visibility. The combination of archaeoinformatics and geoarchaeology will assist us in predicting the locations of open-air prehistoric sites through the use of site location modelling and satellite remote sensing. The visibility and preservation of sites will be explored through a process-based model using Ground Penetrating Radar data and sedimentological analyses. Thus, we will be able to simulate the impact of sediment erosion and deposition on the discoverability of sites in both the present and future. The acquisition, analysis and presentation of data is performed using Python scripts as well as open-source software. Therefore, this project will promote research transparency and reproducibility while improving our understanding of the presence of early modern humans in coastal environments.