This project aims to understand the tempo and nature of the spread of herding in eastern Africa, and impacts on foragers. Material culture attributed to the Pastoral Neolithic tradition, often associated with remains of livestock at Kenyan sites, is found at sites in northern Tanzania stretching from the Serengeti to the Rift Valley. This poorly explored area is commonly thought to mark a southern “boundary” of early herder movements, where evidence for dedicated pastoralism is weak, and signals of forager-food producer contact are strong. The existence and implications of such a boundary have not been questioned in any depth. Scholarship on frontiers – less fixed than boundaries – shows that they often shift, dissolve or solidify depending on the nature of relationships between foragers and food producers. Thus sites in this area are an excellent testing ground for theories regarding forager-producer contact.
We explore the “moving frontier” of herding through surveys and test excavations in the Manyara and Engaruka basins of the Rift Valley. Survey tracts are defined using GIS-based predictive models, based on ethnographic and archaeological data for pastoralist settlements. We aim to: understand how land use varied according to subsistence strategy; refine the local chronology for early herding; examine claims for contact among Rift Valley populations in Kenya and Tanzania; and elucidate the relationship, if any, between material culture and subsistence strategies. In the long term, this will lead to more extensive excavations, enabling a better understanding of the dynamics of contact and the nature of herders' settlements.
The team assembles specialists from Tanzania, Europe and the US who will train Tanzanian students in field methods and materials analysis, in addition to giving public talks. The training will increase the breadth and depth of exposure to anthropological-archaeological theory and methods for a future generation of archaeologists and cultural heritage managers.
- Prendergast, M.E., Mabulla, A.Z.P., Grillo, K.M., Broderick, L.G., Seitsonen, O., Gidna, A.O., Gifford-Gonzalez, D.P., 2013. Pastoral Neolithic Sites on the Southern Mbulu Plateau, Tanzania. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 48, 498–520.
Broderick, L.G., Prendergast, M.E., Seitsonen, O., Grillo, K., Gidna, A. & Mabulla, A. No Flies on Us: The Diffusion of the Neolithic in Africa, 33rd AEA Annual Conference at University of Reading, 2012.
Prendergast, M.E., Mabulla, A.Z.P., Seitsonen, O., Broderick, L.G., Grillo, K. & Gidna, A. Hunters, Herders and Land Use in Northern Tanzania, The 9th Annual African Archaeology Research Day (AARD) at University of Southampton, 2012.