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Recent re-excavation of Mumba Rockshelter unearthed an unbiased lithic sample from Bed V. Technological analysis has permitted a reinterpretation of the so-called Mumba Industry, a transitional industry between Middle and Later Stone Ages originally defined by Mehlman (1989). Our data confirm Mehlman’s observation that the “evolutionary” markers in Mumba Bed V are basically typological. However, our study differs from his in that we classify all of Bed V as LSA based on the combined analyses of typology and technology in our excavated assemblage. From a technological perspective, no changes have been observed throughout the sequence, and continuity is the main technological characteristic of the series. The only transitional marker from Lower through Upper Bed V is the appearance of the geometric crescent in the latter, taking into account that microliths exist throughout the sequence. This evidence casts some doubts on previous interpretations and underscores the need to recover a larger sample using modern excavation techniques. It also stresses the need to define the MSA/LSA transition in better terms, combining techno-typological criteria.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

Ongoing archaeological research at North Lake Eyasi has produced a wealth of information, including a new hominid fossil and several archaeological sites dating to the end of the Middle Pleistocene. One of the sites (WB9) has been excavated and has produced evidence of multiple processes in its formation, including evidence of functional associations of stone tools and faunal remains which are scarce for this time period. The stone tool industry is based on a core and flake industry, which is not very diagnostic and attributed to MSA. Earlier heavy-duty tools classified as Sangoan may derive from the underlying Eyasi Beds. The stratigraphic provenience of previous fossil hominids is unknown. Surface collections from the Eyasi lake, thus, comprise two different sets of stone tools and fossils, which can only be clearly differentiated in the field. This advises against the use of previously curated collections as a homogeneous sample. Earlier definitions of the Njarasa industry should be revised. This work presents results on the paleoecology of the area and of its paleontological and archaeological information, with special reference to the excavation of WB9, the most complete site discovered in the area so far. This contributes to the limited information available about site functionality and hominid subsistential behaviour in East Africa during the end of the Middle Pleistocene. A technological study from WB9 also shows the variability of stone tool traditions at this time.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

Mumba Rockshelter in northern Tanzania presents one of the richest and most complete archaeological sequences in East Africa for the Middle Stone Age through the Iron Age. Past excavations of the shelter revealed an extremely rich lithic and faunal assemblage, but were problematic, either because of poor excavation and recording methods (in the 1930s), or because the materials were never fully studied (in the 1979/1981 excavations). In both cases, excavators had concluded that the shelter contained a deposit without visible separation between archaeological levels. Re-excavation of Mumba, using modern techniques for recording spatial data, show that the previous geological and archaeological sub-divisions of the shelter deposits need much revision. The results of the excavation have implications for the interpretation of the “transitional” Mumba Industry in the Pleistocene levels and for the co-occurrence of ceramic traditions in the Holocene levels.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

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.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

This paper presents and contextualizes two radiocarbon dates directly obtained from Kansyore and Savanna Pastoral Neolithic (Narosura) ceramic sherds from sites near Lake Eyasi in Tanzania. The dates improve upon those obtained during prior research, which were compromised by problematic samples and stratigraphic disturbance. This underscores the importance of direct dating on diagnostic ceramics in areas with poor site integrity. The Eyasi Basin, often thought to mark a “southern frontier” for stone-using herders, is placed in a broader regional context in terms of material correlates of the spread of food production.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

Location 268 in Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt, is an anomaly within the Epipalaeolithic of North Africa. Instead of the characteristic microlith, a small element usually modified for hafting in a composite tool, it yields tools made almost exclusively on large blanks, many of them heavily modified for hafting. Relative dating evidence suggests that Loc. 268 was occupied late in the Epipalaeolithic, when groups elsewhere in the region were gradually phasing out the microlith. The focus on large hafted tools at Loc. 268 may reflect the need of collectors for a reliable toolkit to counter the risks entailed in opting for greater sedentism within an unusually rich, well-watered niche.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

prevailing in the region at the time of deposition. They possess the most complete record of the Quaternary in Egypt (Fig. 2) where the sediments assume great thicknesses and are divisible into clear units. The East African Oldowan span, between 2.6 and 1.4 mya, is concurrent with a long hyper-arid period in

In: Journal of African Archaeology
Author: David Pleurdeau

I provide a qualitative study of the unpublished portions of the Middle Stone Age (MSA) lithic assemblage from the Porc-Epic cave site in Ethiopia, presently conserved at the National Museum of Ethiopia (NME), in Addis Ababa.

Previous investigation of all the lithic material collected during the 1933 excavations resulted in an in-depth technological study, revealing its important technical variability, and integrated this material into a regional and continental context. The focus here are the 1975-76 excavations at Porc-Epic Cave, which have provided a collection of several tens of thousands of stone tools, forming the majority of the total lithic material of the cave. This collection, never before studied, published, or inventoried, is stored at the NME in Addis Ababa. It is remarkable for its quantitative importance and its relevance to Ethiopian heritage, as well as for its scientific interest concerning the behaviour of modern humans more than 70,000 years ago.

In: Journal of African Archaeology
Authors: A.C. Christie and A. Haour

archaeological literature whereby the first cowries to arrive into West Africa were Monetaria moneta brought in from the Maldives while Monetaria annulus (Linneaus 1758) was brought from East Africa only from later periods, via European maritime trade routes. Monod (1969: 309) suggests that while East Africa

In: Journal of African Archaeology