African Archaeological Review

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 65–127 | Cite as

Hunter to herder: large mammal remains from the hunter-gatherer occupation at Enkapune Ya Muto rock-shelter, Central Rift, Kenya

  • Curtis W. Marean


Late Quaternary rock-shelter deposits from the Mau Escarpement in Kenya preserve abundant large mammal remains, particularly in Holocene deposits. Taphonomic analysis indicates that people accumulated the Holocene archaeofauna and that, after discard, ravaging carnivores had little impact on the assemblage. The hunters concentrated on small bovids of the forest throughout the occupation, avoiding the larger more dangerous game that must have been abundant. This pattern differs significantly from that documented over the last 100 years for the Okiek hunter-gatherers of the Mau montane forest. Complete carcasses of small bovids were typically transported to the site, and the introduction of pottery had no apparent effect on carcass transport and butchery. Slightly greater bone destruction is evident at the time of the middle Holocene dry phase, and this may relate to more intense grease rendering. Domestic caprines appearedca 4000 years ago, about 900 years after pottery, but small wild bovids dominated the economy until about 3000 years ago when the resident hunter-gatherers became specialized caprine herders.


Cultural Study Bone Destruction Apparent Effect Large Mammal Holocene Deposit 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Les dépôts de cet abri sous roche, escarpement de Mau, Kenya, et en particulier les dépôts holocènes, ont preservé une faune abondante de mammiferes larges. L'analyse taphonomique indique que les carnivores n'ont eu que peu d'effet sur la distribution de l'archéofaune holocène accumulée par les humains. La chasse fut concentrée sur les petits bovidés de la forêt pendant toute l'occupation du site, évitant les animaux plus larges et plus dangereux qui devaient cependant être abondant. Cette image diverge de façon significative de celle obtenue pour les Okiek (chasseurs/cueilleurs de la forêt de montagne de Mau), pour les 100 dernières années.

Les carcasses complètes des petits bovidés étainent habituellement transportées sur le site et l'introduction de la poterie ne semble pas avoir eu d'effet apparent sur le transport des carcasses ou leur démembrement. Durant la phase sèche de l'Holocène moyen, une destruction un peu plus étendue des os est évidente et pourrait être attribuée à une exploitation de la graisse plus intense. Les caprinés domestiques apparaissent aux environs de 4000 ans, plusieurs centaines d'années après la potterie, mais les petits bovidés sauvages dominent l'économie jusqu'aux environs de 3000 ans, lorsque les chasseurs/cueilleurs résidents se spécialisent dans la garde des caprinés.


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