African Archaeological Review

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 225–252 | Cite as

The Transition from the Later Stone Age to Iron Age in Kondoa, Central Tanzania

  • Emanuel Thomas KessyEmail author
Original Article


Many scholars assume that the spread of Iron Age (IA) agropastoralism traditions to Sub-Saharan Africa was associated with the domination, assimilation, or dislocation of Later Stone Age (LSA) autochthonous populations. Archaeological data from Kondoa, central Tanzania show evidence of interaction between IA agropastoralists and LSA hunter-gatherers around 1030 years bp. Despite that, replacement of the LSA traditions seems to have taken a considerably slow pace, leading to the suggestion that autochthonous LSA groups were not displaced or assimilated by IA people but became agropastoralists through a process of acculturation. This outcome raises questions about the reliability of the assimilation or displacement models typically used by scholars to account for the fate of prehistoric LSA hunter-gatherers during contact with IA agropastoralists in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Later Stone Age Iron Age Hunter-gatherers Agropastoralists Kondoa, central Tanzania 


Beaucoup de chercheurs présument que l'expansion des traditions agro-pastoralistes de l'Age de Fer (AF) en Afrique sub-Saharienne a impliqué la domination, l'assimilation, ou la dislocation des populations autochtones de l'Age de Pierre Tardif (APT). Les données archéologiques de Kondoa, en Tanzanie centrale, documentent les intéractions entre agro-pastoralistes de l'AF et chasseurs-cueilleurs de l'APT vers 1030 bp. Ces données indiquent que le remplacement des traditions de l'APT semble s'être déroulé relativement lentement, et suggèrent donc que les groupes autochtones de l'APT ne furent pas chassés ou assimilés par les populations de l'AF mais qu'ils sont devenus des agro-pastoralistes par un processus d'acculturation. Ces résultats mettent en question les modèles de dislocation typiquement invoqués par les chercheurs pour expliquer le destin des chasseurs-cueilleurs prehistoriques de l'APT suite à leur contact avec les agro-pastoralistes de l'AF en Afrique sub-Saharienne.



The production of this work would not have been possible without the contributions from many quarters. I would like to thank Prof. Felix Chami and Prof. Bertram Mapunda of the Department of History and Archaeology, University of Dar es Salaam, as well as Prof. Catherine D'Andrea of the Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University, for the critical review of my paper. I am also indebted to Mr. Said Kilindo of the University of Dar es Salaam for drawing most of the diagrams. Special thanks go to the University of Dar es Salaam for funding the production of this work. I am so grateful to the Department of Antiquities, Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Tanzania for granting my research permit, as well as the people of Lusangi Pahi and Baura Pahi for being so generous during the whole period of research. Lastly, I would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful input and to acknowledge the assistance of Adria LaViolette in bringing the publication of this paper to fruition.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History and ArchaeologyUniversity of Dar es SalaamDar es SalaamTanzania

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