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East African Archaeology

Foragers, Potters, Smiths, and Traders

Edited by Chapurukha M. Kusimba and Sibel B. Kusimba

Publication Year: 2003

The goal of this volume is to impart an appreciation of the many facets of East Africa's cultural and archaeological diversity over the last 2,000 years. It brings together chapters on East African archaeology, many by Africa-born archaeologists who review what is known, present new research, and pinpoint issues of debate and anomaly in the relatively poorly known prehistory of East Africa.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press


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pp. v

Figures and Tables

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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi-xiii

East Africa has special meaning for us Homo sapiens. It is, as far as we know, the place where early humans first experimented with the technologies, social relationships, and food-getting strategies that eventually became the survival repertoire of modern people. East Africa, including the...

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1. Comparing Prehistoric and Historic Hunter-Gatherer Mobility in Southern Kenya

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pp. 1-16

Archaeologists have long used the ethnographic record of hunter-gatherer societies as a productive source of models of prehistoric hunter-gatherer cultures. Using information from societies like the !Kung San, Lee and DeVore (1968:11–12) assembled an empirical model of hunter-gatherer societies that...

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2. The East African Neolithic: A Historical Perspective

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pp. 17-32

The term “Neolithic” was first used in an archaeological context in East Africa by the geologist John Walter Gregory (1896, 1921) working in the Rift Valley system. The term was then used to describe obsidian artifacts found on the Athi Plains, Kikuyu Escarpment, and near Lake Baringo in...

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3. Archaeological Implications of Hadzabe Forager Land Use in the Eyasi Basin, Tanzania

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pp. 33-58

Archaeological research has changed substantially since 1980. Ethnographic studies of forager land use, especially those that pertain to activities conducted away from perennial habitations (Binford 1980; Hitchcock 1982;Yellen 1977), have stimulated archaeologists to explore the...

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4. Ceramic Ethnoarchaeology: Some Examples from Kenya

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pp. 59-70

Pottery has attracted considerable attention from archaeologists. One important reason for this is that pottery is durable and at the same time ubiquitous in the later archaeological record. Pottery has been used to define the basic chronological and distributional parameters of prehistoric...

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5. Fipa Iron Technologies and Their Implied Social History

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pp. 71-85

The history of indigenous iron production in East and Central Africa goes back 2,500 years. Since its establishment, ironworking has remained a vital technological invention among African societies until very recently.The technology began to collapse in most places during the first quarter...

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6. Early Ironworking Communities on the East African Coast: Excavations at Kivinja, Tanzania

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pp. 87-97

The excavations at the site of Kivinja on the Tanzanian coast are significant for East African Iron Age archaeology since this site, along with two others—the Limbo site (Chami 1992) and the Kwale Island site (Chami and Msemwa 1997a, 1997b)—provides the first evidence of the Early Iron Age...

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7. Ironworking on the Swahili Coast of Kenya

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pp. 99-115

This chapter considers the role of ironworking technology in Iron Age communities of the East African coast, where standing stone ruins attest to the development of city-states during the 12th–16th centuries AD. The city-states are attributed to Swahili-speaking peoples and were found along...

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8. Iron Age Settlement Patterns and Economic Change on Zanzibar and Pemba Islands

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pp. 117-131

The distribution of known archaeological sites on Pemba and Zanzibar Islands can tell us much about factors that influenced site location.Present site distribution, of course,may be a construct of the present state of research and the research designs of previous studies.First, most research projects...

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9. Politics, Cattle, and Conservation: Ngorongoro Crater at a Crossroads

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pp. 133-148

East African tourism primarily features wildlife, local customs, historical sites, and spectacular landscapes. Like many other developing nations, Tanzania has created national parks and other forms of protected areas (reserves and conservation areas) to boost the country’s economy...

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10. Explaining the Origins of the State in East Africa

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pp. 149-166

Among the major goals of archaeology—one of its “Big Questions” (Binford 1983)—is the explanation of the development of sociopolitical complexity or, in more grandiose terms, the rise of civilization. For archaeologists studying sub-Saharan Africa, this question has often been recast...

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11. East African Archaeology: A South African Perspective

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pp. 167-181

When in 1947 the First Pan-African Congress on Prehistory met in Nairobi it initiated a series of meetings that continue to bring together archaeologists and others involved in the reconstruction of Africa’s past. In that immediate postwar period a particularly close linkage was perceived...


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pp. 183-217


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pp. 219-220


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pp. 221-226

E-ISBN-13: 9781934536261
Print-ISBN-13: 9781931707619

Page Count: 226
Publication Year: 2003

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Prehistoric peoples -- Africa, East.
  • Antiquities, Prehistoric -- Africa, East.
  • Africa, East -- Antiquities.
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