African Archaeological Review

, Volume 24, Issue 1–2, pp 15–33 | Cite as

Hunting and Foraging in the Eyasi Basin, Northern Tanzania: Past, Present and Future Prospects

  • Audax Z. P. MabullaEmail author
Original Article


In this paper I document the history of hunting and foraging in the Eyasi Basin, northern Tanzania, from about 130,000 bp to contemporary times, by reviewing the available archaeological, palaeontological, historical and ethnographic data. The review reveals a complex co-existence and interactions between hunter-foragers and herders and farmers from about 3,000 bp until the present. In addition, the review exposes intricate opportunities and at the same time risks/constraints that face extant Hadzabe hunter-foragers in the 21st century. The Hadzabe are a group of about 800–1,000 people who live in the Eyasi Basin. Traditionally, they are viewed as hunter-foragers—people who acquire nearly all of their food by hunting wild animals and foraging wild plant foods and honey. Although Hadzabe have been closely surrounded by other ethnic and cultural groups with whom they have interacted, for at least the last 100 years, their existence as a cultural group in the 21st century is in doubt. Mitigation measures are required in order to enhance the existence of this important cultural group.


Hunter-forager MSA LSA Hadzabe Eyasi Basin Tanzania 


Cet article est une présentation de l’histoire de chasse et d’affourragement au Bassin Eyasi dans le nord de la Tanzanie, dès les environs de 130.000 ans avant présent, aux périodes contemporaines. On fait une revue des données archéologiques, anthropologiques, paléonthologiques, historiques ainsi que éthnographiques disponibles. La revue indique qu’il y a une coexistence et interaction complexes entre les chasseurs-fourrageurs, bouviers, et cultivateurs il y a 3.000 ans jusqu’au présent. En outre, la revue présente des occasions et en même temps des risques et contraintes complexes qui se posent aux Hadzabé: un groupe d’environ 800–1000 personnes (chasseurs-fourrageurs) qui vivent dans le bassin Eyassi. Traditionnellement, les Hadzabé sont regardés comme, les personnes qui obtiennent présque toutes leurs nourritures de la chair des animaux sauvages, des aliments végétaux sauvage et du miel. Bien que les Hadzabé aient été étroitement environnés et qu’ils aient interagis avec d’autres groupes éthniques et culturels au cours de 100 années passées leur existence au 20ème siècle en tant que groupe culturel est incertaine. Donc, des mesures sont exigées pour soutenir l’existence de ce groupe culturel important.



The review of the past, present and future of hunting and foraging in the Eyasi Basin, northern Tanzania is part of my archaeological research program in the area. Financial support for this project came from the Ford Foundation and Prof. Masaki Nishida’s (Tsukuba University, Japan) research grant. The paper was revised during my sabbatical leave at Departmento de Prehistoria Universidad Complutense de Madrid. I thank my colleague, Manuel Dominguez-Rodrigo, the Head of the Department, and the Dean, Facultad de Geografica e Historia for providing me with an opportunity and facilities to work at their University.

I am very grateful to Michael M. Mehlman for permission to cite his thesis and for his insightful criticism and comments. Also, I am thankful to John R. F. Bower, Manuel Dominguez-Rodrigo, Jeanette Hanby, Camilla Power, Amin A. Mturi, Charles Saanane, Felix Chami and Mary Prendergast for their useful criticisms and comments on earlier versions of the paper. Nonetheless, all conclusions and errors are my own.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Archaeology UnitUniversity of Dar es SalaamDar es SalaamTanzania

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