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African Archaeological Review

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 105–130 | Cite as

Pastoralism and Pottery Use: An Ethnoarchaeological Study in Samburu, Kenya

  • Katherine M. Grillo
Original Article

Abstract

In Samburu, Kenya, ethnoarchaeological research reveals a deep and perhaps unexpected integration of pottery use into a mobile lifestyle centered on the herding of livestock. This paper examines the importance of pottery to Samburu survival, particularly for the preparation of bone soups, wild plants, and other foods during times of drought and food insecurity. These data raise new questions about how pottery and other household material culture may have influenced the origins and development of African pastoralism.

Keywords

Ceramic ethnoarchaeology Pastoralism Mobility Material culture Culinary practice Samburu 

Résumé

En Samburu, Kenya, la recherche ethnoarchéologique révèle une intégration profonde et peut-être inattendu de l'utilisation de la poterie dans une vie mobile centrée sur l'élevage de bétail. Cet article examine l'importance de la poterie à la survie des gens Samburu, notamment pour la préparation de soupes d'os, de plantes sauvages et d'autres aliments pendant les périodes de sécheresse et l'insécurité alimentaire. Ces données soulèvent de nouvelles questions sur la façon dont la poterie et autres culture matérielle des ménages peuvent avoir influé sur les origines et le développement du pastoralisme africain.

Notes

Acknowledgments

I gratefully acknowledge the Ministry of Science and Education in Kenya for research permission, as well as the Archaeology Division at the National Museums of Kenya for their institutional support. Funding for the project was provided by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and Sigma Xi. Much of this paper was written while a research fellow at the Graduate School “Human Development in Landscapes,” Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Germany. Special thanks to Cheryl Makarewicz at the Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte for kindly hosting me. Of course, my greatest debt is to the women and men of the Samburu community for sharing their time, expertise, and so many cups of tea. Prame Lesorogol’s research skills were integral to the success of the project; special thanks also to Lolkitari Lesorogol and Carolyn Lesorogol for providing me with a home and logistical support. Fiona Marshall, Mary Prendergast, Elisabeth Hildebrand, and Austin Hill helped with earlier drafts of this paper. Finally, many thanks to Amanda Logan, Cameron Gokee, and three anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful comments and critiques. Any mistakes are my own.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and ArchaeologyUniversity of Wisconsin—La CrosseLa CrosseUSA

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