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Iron Age hunting and herding in coastal eastern Africa: ZooMS identification of domesticates and wild bovids at Panga ya Saidi, Kenya

Culley, C; Janzen, A; Brown, S; Prendergast, ME; Shipton, C; Ndiema, E; Petraglia, MD; ... Crowther, A; + view all (2021) Iron Age hunting and herding in coastal eastern Africa: ZooMS identification of domesticates and wild bovids at Panga ya Saidi, Kenya. Journal of Archaeological Science , 130 , Article ARTN 105. 10.1016/j.jas.2021.105368. Green open access

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Abstract

The morphological differentiation of African bovids in highly fragmented zooarchaeological assemblages is a major hindrance to reconstructing the nature and spread of pastoralism in sub-Saharan Africa. Here we employ collagen peptide mass fingerprinting, known as Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS), coupled with recently published African ZooMS reference datasets, to identify domesticates and wild bovids in Iron Age assemblages at the cave site of Panga ya Saidi in southeast Kenya. Through ZooMS we have identified all three major African livestock—sheep (Ovis aries), goat (Capra hircus) and cattle (Bos taurus)—at the site for the first time. The results provide critical evidence for the use of domesticates by resident foraging populations during the Iron Age, the period associated with the arrival of food production in coastal Kenya. ZooMS results show that livestock at Panga ya Saidi form a minor component of the assemblage compared to wild bovids, demonstrating the persistence of hunting and the secondary role of acquiring livestock in hunter-gatherer foodways during the introduction of agro-pastoralism. This study sheds new light on the establishment of food production in coastal eastern Africa, particularly the role of interactions between hunter-gatherers and neighbouring agro-pastoral groups in what was a protracted regional transition to farming.

Type: Article
Title: Iron Age hunting and herding in coastal eastern Africa: ZooMS identification of domesticates and wild bovids at Panga ya Saidi, Kenya
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2021.105368
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2021.105368
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
Keywords: Zooarchaeology; Collagen fingerprinting; Caprines; CattleHunter-gatherer subsistence; Agro-pastoralism; Food production; East Africa
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10129931
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