Journal of World Prehistory

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 49-82

First online:

The Pastoral Neolithic of East Africa

  • John BowerAffiliated withAnthropology Department, Iowa State University

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In East Africa, as in many other regions, the initial shift from hunting and gathering to food production was a secondary process involving the introduction of species domesticated elsewhere. Specifically, the East African Neolithic, or Pastoral Neolithic, centered on herding livestock, some of which may have been domesticated in the Sahara and all of which were almost certainly imported from areas to the north. The development of the Pastoral Neolithic was lengthy and complex, having begun before 4000 B.P. and lasted until about 1300 B.P. Although detailed information on this segment of African prehistory is not abundant, data so far available reveal a succession of cultural transformations within the Pastoral Neolithic, such that it can be divided into early, evolved, and late stages, each exhibiting distinctive combinations of ceramic wares, lithic industries, and subsistence regimes. The transformations seem to have been fostered by both environmental change and population movements.

Key Words

East Africa Neolithic pastoralism