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Early Human Habitation and Environmental Adaptation in Central Tanzania in East Africa: An Archaeological and Geospatial Investigation

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Part of the Geography of the Physical Environment book series (GEOPHY)

Abstract

In the East African region, Tanzania represents a nucleus of early human origin. Central Tanzania in particular abounds in prehistoric and historical human and cultural evidences. Archaeologically, Dodoma Region (35°–37° E and 4°–7° S) in Central Tanzania is a centre of attraction for rock art and early human settlements. Apart from earlier discoveries of some of the potential archaeological sites, new scholarly investigations including our surveys in and around the Dodoma Region have yielded substantial evidence to strengthen the dense nature of habitat, congenial environment, subsistence and survival of early humans. Some of the archaeological sites such as Isimila, the late Acheulian/Early Stone Age site, Kondoa, Singida and Bahi rock art sites (Culwick AT, J R Anthropol Inst Great Brit Irel. 61:443–453, 1931) of early Holocene times; and Stone Age and historical sites around the University of Dodoma are a few instances of evidence in the Dodoma Region revealing temporary, semi-sedentary and sedentary settlements located in different habitats and environments. Our research activities, which include reconnaissance survey, intrusive excavation and geospatial investigations, have uncovered several topographical and geomorphic features of archaeological sites in the region. Geomorphological features as shown by the stratigraphic profiles of test excavations in various archaeological and cultural heritage sites, location aspects, physiographic and environmental conditions and variations derived from non-intrusive geospatial technological applications such as aerial photos, satellite imagery and GPS coordinates substantively corroborate the idea of subsistence and adaptation to survival of early human populations within the existing ecological conditions. The data pertaining to satellite images for the past 60 years were used to analyse climate and other geographical conditions in the study region. This chapter examines the geographical and geomorphic features of habitat, environmental adaptation and settlement pattern of human populations in space and time through geospatial analysis. Some archaeological sites as case studies were investigated for surfacial and sub-surfacial data collection. The results of terrain analysis revealed that elevation, slope and aspect had played a vital role in human settlement locations. The evidence of climate change and variability in the case study sites showed early human adaptation strategies including settlement abandonment and migration. The use of geospatial analysis has provided better insight to relate early human settlement and environment. Further our investigations revealed threats caused by natural calamities and human vandalism to the most precious archaeological and cultural heritage sites, the promoters of tourism and plausible solutions.

Keywords

  • Central Tanzania
  • Early human habitation
  • Environmental adaptations
  • Archaeological and cultural heritage sites
  • Excavation and stratigraphy
  • Geospatial techniques

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Fig. 24.1
Figs. 24.2, 24.3 & 24.4
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Fig. 24.8

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Appendix (Site Photos)

Appendix (Site Photos)

  • Top first row: 1. Zinjanthropus (OVG) 2. H. habilis site (OVG)    3. H. erectus site (OVG)

  • Second row: 4. Laetoli foot prints (preserved beneath the stone structure, and so copy preserved in the museum)    5. Isimila ESA (late Acheulian)  6. Makulu Stone Age materials

  • Third row: 7. Ntyuka Chisel edged blade 8. Kikuyu blades and pounders  9. Kikuyu stone pounders.

  • Fourth row: 10. Wambambali site (UDOM) grindstone 11. Wambambali burnt daub    12. Gogo settlement near Makulu

  • Fifth row: 13 & 14. Kolo Kondoa rock paintings & 15. Singida: Kinaliya-Kyaga rock paintings.

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Sadasivuni, K.R., Kasongi, N., Temu, E.L. (2022). Early Human Habitation and Environmental Adaptation in Central Tanzania in East Africa: An Archaeological and Geospatial Investigation. In: Bhunia, G.S., Chatterjee, U., Lalmalsawmzauva, K., Shit, P.K. (eds) Anthropogeomorphology. Geography of the Physical Environment. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-77572-8_24

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