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East African Archaeology

East African Archaeology: Foragers, Potters, Smiths, and Traders

Chapurukha M. Kusimba
Sibel B. Kusimba
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 226
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  • Book Info
    East African Archaeology
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-1-934536-26-1
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Figures and Tables
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. 1 Comparing Prehistoric and Historic Hunter-Gatherer Mobility in Southern Kenya
    (pp. 1-16)
    Sibel B. Kusimba and Chapurukha M. Kusimba

    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 emphasized high mobility, flexible social arrangements, and exchange and kinship alliances. This model was abundantly applied to prehistoric situations ranging from East African fossil hominids to late prehistoric groups in the northeastern United States (Shott 1992:846). Over time, however, a revisionist perspective has urged consideration of how local historical factors influence diversity in hunter-gatherer societies such as that of...

  6. 2 The East African Neolithic: A Historical Perspective
    (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 present-day Kenya (Fig. 2.1). Subsequently, the word “Neolithic” was used to describe isolated finds of stone bowls, polished stone ax-heads, and bored stones or stone rings that were made in various parts of the country (Dobbs 1914, 1918; Hobley 1913). This definition was also used in European and Near Eastern archaeology, where...

  7. 3 Archaeological Implications of Hadzabe Forager Land Use in the Eyasi Basin, Tanzania
    (pp. 33-58)
    Audax Mabulla

    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 interpretive potential of the full range of archaeological remains, including surface and low density artifact scatter. Contemporary forager land use was an important element of archaeological investigation in the 1990s (Gamble and Boismier 1991).

    The study of contemporary forager land use provides a fruitful approach to understanding prehistoric landscape use and archaeological spatial patterning. An examination of Hadzabe land-use foraging patterns in the Eyasi Basin...

  8. 4 Ceramic Ethnoarchaeology: Some Examples from Kenya
    (pp. 59-70)
    Simiyu Wandibba

    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 sociocultural systems in attempts to discover evidence of local and long-distance exchange, to reconstruct the development of craft specialization, to identify ethnic and other social groups, and to reconstruct learning frameworks and elements of social organization (Kramer 1994).

    As can be seen in the work of Kramer (1994), the archaeological utility of pottery has almost no limits. All...

  9. 5 Fipa Iron Technologies and Their Implied Social History
    (pp. 71-86)
    Bertram B. B. Mapunda

    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 of the 20th century due in great part to competition from relatively cheap European metalware and scrap iron. The availability of both classes of iron increased tremendously following colonialism. Sometimes the colonial governments deliberately repressed indigenous technology to protect a market for European-made products (Brock and Brock 1963). In a few places, where European influence was minimal...

  10. 6 Early Ironworking Communities on the East African Coast: Excavations at Kivinja, Tanzania
    (pp. 87-98)
    Felix Chami

    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 cultures that existed from ad 1 to 500 on the East African coast. Prior to the discovery and excavation of these sites, only Late Iron Working (LIW) sites with standing ruins were known. All three of these sites contain beveled and fluted pottery, which is associated with farming peoples.


  11. 7 Ironworking on the Swahili Coast of Kenya
    (pp. 99-116)
    Chapurukha M. Kusimba and David Killick

    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 the coasts of Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, and the Comoros (Sinclair 1991, 1993). The region has many exploitable resources that have attracted settlement by different peoples and subsistence economies throughout time.

    A large number of archaeological sites along the Swahili Coast possess standing ruins of coral and coral rag (Fig. 7.1). Many sites also contain...

  12. 8 Iron Age Settlement Patterns and Economic Change on Zanzibar and Pemba Islands
    (pp. 117-132)
    Emanuel T. Kessy

    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 have concentrated on coastal sites. The few known inland sites contain standing monuments and are consequently quite easy to find. Second, research to date has been conducted on sites known historically from either Arabic texts or oral traditions. As only sites with visible surface remains—especially stone monuments—have been studied, many sites...

  13. 9 Politics, Cattle, and Conservation: Ngorongoro Crater at a Crossroads
    (pp. 133-148)
    Charles Musiba and Audax Mabulla

    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 and protect these areas for future generations. In Tanzania, most national parks, game reserves, and conservation areas are located within the savanna ecosystem, which supports a wide range of wildlife. In principle, national parks and game reserves in Tanzania are part of the nation’s heritage and should therefore provide Tanzanians with sustainable and improvable subsistence and revenue (Nyerere 1968, 1974). However, some...

  14. 10 Explaining the Origins of the State in East Africa
    (pp. 149-166)
    Peter Robertshaw

    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 as one of origins: Did states arise as the result of migrations of people from elsewhere or were they indigenous African phenomena? Alternatively, might states have arisen among indigenous African peoples with the knowledge and perhaps the accoutrements of statecraft coming from elsewhere? Answers to these questions have been influenced by the context of research. Colonialism and nationalism...

  15. 11 East African Archaeology: A Southern African Perspective
    (pp. 167-182)
    Peter Mitchell

    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 between the prehistories of southern and East Africa: Stone Age cultural assemblages from East Africa were, for example, described as “Wilton,” after the typesite of southern Africa’s own Holocene microlithic tradition (L. Leakey 1931). Furthermore, the basic chronostratigraphic frameworks for the Quaternary of both regions had been tied together by Van Riet Lowe’s (1929) and Smuts’s...

  16. References
    (pp. 183-218)
  17. Contributors
    (pp. 219-220)
  18. Index
    (pp. 221-226)