African Archaeological Review

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 111–140 | Cite as

New Perspectives on Early Regional Interaction Networks of East African Trade: A View from Tsavo National Park, Kenya

  • David K. WrightEmail author


Archaeologists are interested in understanding whether cross-cultural contact catalyzed by exchange of commodities is a means for people to acquire new technology and cultural ideas. This paper reports the results and analysis of archaeological investigations in Tsavo National Park, Kenya in 2001 and 2004 that have recovered evidence of indirect contact between late pastoral neolithic (PN) herders and early iron working (EIW) communities. Analysis of stylistic motifs on ceramics used by both PN and EIW people show that socially constructed notions of aesthetics are similar, implying that a strong cultural connection between the two groups may be possible. New lexico-statistical analyses and archaeological data from Tanzania corroborate that the prehistoric East African milieu was more complex than previously believed. However, pastoralists in Tsavo show no evidence of utilizing iron technology or altering their subsistence strategies among the > 10,000 artifacts spanning 4,000+ years of prehistory recovered in the 2001 field season. Thus, long-distance and long-term contact between socially connected groups possessing different technological and subsistence foundations does not necessarily lead to a diffusion of new survival strategies.

Les archéologues sont intéressés à comprendre la diffusion technologique et culturelle préhistorique [Les archeologues se sont interestesa comprendre la diffusion prehistorique de la technologie et de la culture]. Le contact entre les cultures catalysées par l'échange des produits est des moyens pour que les personnes acquièrent la nouvelle technologie et les idées culturelles. Cependant, le point auquel certaines idées sont acceptées ou rejetées demeure irrésolu. [Quand le contact contre-culturelle s'allie avec l'exchange de produits, les deux fournissent les nouvelles idees culturelles et technologiques aux gens. Mais, le point d D'autres données sont nécessaires pour augmenter nos compréhension de l'échange des idées entre les groupes de personnes et comment des changements de technologie. Les investigations archéologiques en parc national de Tsavo, Kenya dans 2001 ont récupéré l'évidence du contact indirect entre les bouviers néolithiques pastoraux (PN) en retard et les premières communautés du fondre de fer (EIW). L'analyse des motifs stylistiques sur la céramique utiliser par des personnes de PN et d'EIW prouvent que les notions socialement construites de l'esthétique sont semblables, impliquant qu'un raccordement culturel fort entre les deux groupes peut être possible. Les nouvelles analyses lexico-statistiques et les données archéologiques de Tanzanie corroborent que le milieu africain est préhistorique était plus complexe que précédemment cru. Cependant, les bouviers préhistorique dans Tsavo ne montrent aucune évidence d'utiliser la technologie de fer ou de changer leurs stratégies de subsistance parmi les > 10.000 objets façonnés enjambant les années 4.000+ de la préhistoire récupérées dans la saison de 2001 champs. Ainsi, contact à longue distance et long terme entre les groupes socialement reliés possédant différentes bases technologiques et de subsistance ne mène pas nécessairement à une diffusion de nouvelles strategies de survival.

Key Words

East Africa Iron Age pastoral neolithic 


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© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyThe University of Illinois at ChicagoChicago

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