Charcoal analyses were performed on hearths and ash layers from a seasonally occupied Neolithic dwelling site in the eastern lowlands of the Horn of Africa, dated to the first half of the second millennium BC. It was suggested by an earlier study that the predominance of two taxa, Suaeda (seablite)/Chenopodiaceae and Salvadora persica (saltbush), could be an over-representation due to the selection of wood for specialized use, i.e. fish processing. In this study, we show that this can be ruled out, and that the characteristics of the charcoal spectra can be explained in terms of past vegetation composition. We suggest that arid steppe plant formations prevailed, from which most of the fauna was hunted, and that the nearby water channel was not active all year round.

In: Journal of African Archaeology