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BRIEFLY...

One especially interesting paper given at the conference of the Pan-African Association of Prehistory and Related Studies in Harare in June, writes Or Janette Deacon, was by Steve Brandt from the University of Florida. He has been doing ethnographic research in southern Ethiopia where at least six linguistically distinct groups are still manufacturing stone tools for skin w.orking and leather-making. He has been able to document how the stone tools are made and hafted to wooden handles, who makes them, where the leather-working is done, and the role that leather-workers play in society. Surprisingly, there is a great deal of variability even within this small geographic area. There are some communities in which only women make and use stone scrapers, others in which both men and women do the work, and others in which it is an exclusively male task. In some cases the preparation of skins is done around the home, while in others it is done in secret in the forest. In some cases the stone tools are quite large, and in others they are small, and the hafts vary accordingly. There are societies in which almost anyone may work skins, and there are others in which leather-workers form a distinct caste. This is a long-term project that has only just begun and we look forward to seeing the results in print in the next few years. They will help a great deal in the analysis and interpretation of variability in Stone Age assemblages.

Baobab tombs for bards? David Devenish, in MEG News - Newsletter of the Museum Eth nographers Group - writes that until the 1940s honow baobab trees in the semi-desert area near Saloum in Senegal were used as tombs for Briots, hereditary bards. 'We stopped to see one In which were entombed the bones of about 40

griots. These griots recorded the history of their tribes in epic form, the African equivalent of, say, the Odyssey.' With the spread of Islam and modern life griots are losing their old skills; and some of the younger generation have become pop singers. 'It is most important to record their folk memories on tape before it is too late'.

The University of Cape Town's Department of Archaeology has become the first and only department

at a South African University to hold

two research units awarded by the Centre

for Science Development of the Human Sciences Research Council. To the long-established Spatial Archaeology Research Unit, directed by Professor John Parkington, is now added a new unit, directed by Professor Martin Hall, to co-ordinate research on the historical archaeology of Cape Town and its hinterland. A decade of research has seen the excavation of a number of major sites, including the Castle, and the training of a generation of graduate students. 'The CSD award is a credit to the participation of these colleagues,' Professor Hall has said. - UCT News, October 1995.

Two resolutions passed by the business meeting of the Pan-African Association of Prehistory and Related Studies in Zimbabwe in June were proposed by the Cultural Re source Management Group, Dr Janette Dea con reports. They were tabled by Dr Roderick Mclntosh from the University of Texas, who has worked extensively in West Africa and is co-author of a recent book that draws attention to the looting of Africa's heri tage.

The first resolution calls for members to lobby their govemments to become signatories to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohib iting and Preventing the illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

The second urges the UNESCO-UNIDROIT negotiations to eliminate all provisions in the final UNIDROIT document by which clear title to stolen art and antiquities can be claimed on the basis of 'good faith' purchase.

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POSERS FROM THE PAST

Two recent issues of The Dig ging Stick (April & August 1995) have featured enig matic artefacts - the pair of beautifully shaped ground stones from Mzinyashana, Thukela Basin (submitted by Aron Mazel), and that 'curved, crafted and utterly mysterious

bone object' from a shelter near Burgersdorp (submitted by Sven Ouzman and Carla Botha).

artefact. On the left over the page, is a crafted rib known to have been used by /Xam fora gers as a spoon. It is repro duced from Bleek and L1oyd's (1911) Specimens of Bush man Folklore, Fig. 23. The scale bar is 30 mm. Next to it is a shorter, 153 mm spatulate

Two further illustrations here of bone objects, sent by Ouzman and Botha, relate to the article on the Burgersdorp

Vol12 (3) Nov 1995

11

The Digging Stick

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