THE DEVELOPMENT AND COLLAPSE OF PRECOLONIAL ETHNIC MOSAICS IN TSAVO, KENYA

Journal of African Archaeology
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  • 1 Department of Anthropology The Field Museum of Natural History
  • 2 Department of Anthropology Northern Illinois University
  • 3 Department of Anthropology University of Illinois at Chicago

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Archaeologists and historians have long believed that little interaction existed between Iron Age cities of the Kenya Coast and their rural hinterlands. Ongoing archaeological and anthropological research in Tsavo, Southeast Kenya, shows that Tsavo has been continuously inhabited at least since the early Holocene. Tsavo peoples made a living by foraging, herding, farming, and producing pottery and iron, and in the Iron Age were linked to global markets via coastal traders. They were at one point important suppliers of ivory destined for Southwest and South Asia. Our excavations document forager and agropastoralist habitation sites, iron smelting and iron working sites, fortified rockshelters, and mortuary sites. We discuss the relationship between fortified rockshelters, in particular, and slave trade.

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