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Month: April 2022

Call for applicants – fieldwork opportunities for African students

Dig into Stone Age Research!   

The HOMER research consortium is calling for applicants to participate in archaeological field and lab research at Stone Age sites in Malawi, South Africa, and Italy. 

Dates: 23 June – 19 August (a 7-8 week period within that range).

Cost: All valid travel expenses paid. There is no stipend above travel-related expenses. Travel must be within Africa or between Africa and Italy.

Eligibility: Undergraduate or graduate students who are African nationals and currently enrolled in archaeology, environmental science, geology, or related programs at African universities.

What is HOMER? The Human Origins Migration and Evolution Research (HOMER) Project is a research consortium funded by Hyde Family Foundations and Arizona State University.

Currently, HOMER comprises five PIs of research projects in South Africa, Malawi, and Italy. We aim to train the next generation of human origins and paleoscience researchers in archaeological field methods at multiple sites in multiple contexts – but using the same system of data recording and processing. By using the same data recording systems we can take advantage of the small, independent advances we each make at our own project sites, and make the transition between projects more seamless for all participants. We can also produce data that are comparable to one another and therefore can facilitate meaningful comparisons between archaeological assemblages in very different contexts. By providing opportunities for students to rotate between projects, they can see the same methods deployed in very different contexts, and experience different cultural contexts of collaborative paleoscientific research.

What is happening in 2022? The 2022 field season will feature rotations of students between fieldwork in Malawi (Kasitu Valley excavations and survey) and either South Africa (Knysna heads field lab processing) or Italy (Arma Veirana field lab processing).

Why am I hearing about this now? Because of uncertainties in the COVID-19 pandemic, it was difficult to plan HOMER fieldwork. Our plans are now established and we are welcoming student applications.

How do I apply? Contact Dr. Jessica Thompson here with the following information attached as email attachments (English required):

  • A one-page statement (~500 words) detailing the following: 1) Why you want to participate in HOMER, and what you believe you will gain from it; 2) Where this experience fits into your personal and academic goals; 3) Where you see your career in three years’ time; and 4) What your expectations are for the field conditions you will experience, challenges you anticipate, and how you propose to deal with them.
  • A short CV with your name and contact details that highlights your educational and related experiential background, with a statement of your current grades and academic standing.
  • Two (2) letters of reference from an academic mentor, faculty member, or other similar person evaluating (briefly) how this experience will aid in your career. If you can only provide one letter at short notice, please explain this in your statement.

What are the selection criteria? Selection for grants will be based on a combination of the quality of the student’s academic background, their statement of intent, and the recommendations of their references.

What is the deadline? Please submit your applications by 10 May, 2022. 

When will I receive an answer? We will notify you by 20 May, 2022 if we can support you.

How many students can participate? We expect to be able to select two student participants with this program.

Other information: You must demonstrate your ability to obtain all appropriate visas prior to purchasing airfares. HOMER is not responsible for errors or omissions on legal paperwork, including visa applications. You must be willing to accept and abide by the HOMER code of conduct and community compact. You must be capable, willing, and eager to undertake the required field and lab activities. You must agree to sign a waiver freeing all PIs and their associated institutions of all liability relating to the consequences of accidents or other hazards that can happen in the field.

Excavations at the Hora 1 site in the Mzimba District of Malawi, a HOMER consortium project.

The HOMER PIs and localities are:

Dr. Jessica Thompson, Yale University: Kasitu Valley, a series of Terminal Pleistocene and Holocene rock shelters in northern Malawi that have produced unique information about the evolution of the Zambezian Biome and some of the earliest ancient human DNA in Africa

Dr. Naomi Cleghorn, Knysna Heads, a cave site that captures the poorly-represented part of the terminal Pleistocene in coastal South Africa

Dr. Jamie Hodgkins, Arma Veirana, a Middle Paleolithic to Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic cave site that recently had some press for having an early decorated female infant burial

Dr. Justin Pargeter, Boomplaas, a Pleistocene-Holocene cave site that samples the poorly-understood arid interior of South Africa

Dr. Curtis Marean, Pinnacle Point, a Middle Stone Age multi-site locality that has generated many important discoveries about early human technological behavior in South Africa

Brief HOMER code of conduct and community compact: HOMER projects are committed to providing a safe and fair working environment and will provide all technical personal protective equipment (NOT basic clothing) necessary for participation. All HOMER projects are committed to offering a harassment free workplace and a professional but informal working and living environment. HOMER projects do not discriminate participants based on age, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic/racial background, or political identity.

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