41-60 of 93 Results  for:

  • Archaeology x
Clear all

Article

The conservation of heritage in west Africa is carried out at different levels—local and national. Communities continue to have the primary responsibility for heritage conservation, as the custodians of such heritage. The variety of heritage in the region, as in other parts of Africa, is largely assured by communal practices or traditional management systems, structured through various levels of community participation, sometimes gendered, with each member of society contributing to the conservation of a common cultural good. These cultural management systems operate contemporaneously with the official government systems set in place to reflect the international heritage discourse, whose practitioners promote it as superior to the traditional systems. However, these two systems are not harmonized, and the alienation of communities from the mainstream discourse could be detrimental to the conservation of heritage. The increase in urbanization and infrastructural development across the region, in line with the aspirations of national and regional development programs, has an impact on cultural heritage and its conservation. With efforts underway to be more inclusive, the traditional and official systems should both be encouraged to innovate and develop systems that are best adapted for ensuring the effective management of west African heritage.

Article

Herman O. Kiriama

The countries of Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and South Sudan geographically lie on the eastern part of the African continent and are member states of the East African Community (EAC), a regional economic bloc. These countries, as many other countries in the world, have important heritage places that are significant to their communities. As a result, these countries have developed various methods of managing this heritage. Heritage management should be understood as caring for a heritage site without compromising its significance so that present and future generations can continue enjoying it. Consequently, countries around the world have put in place various legal regimes that enable them to manage and protect their heritage. Though the East African countries listed belong to the same geographical region and economic bloc, they had differing colonial experiences and, therefore, their legislation regimes, including that governing heritage, may not be exactly the same. Kenya and Uganda, for instance, were British colonies, whereas Tanzania started as a Germany colony but later ended up as a British Protectorate. Rwanda and Burundi also started as Germany colonies but ended up as Belgian colonies. South Sudan, once part of the larger Republic of Sudan, was a British colony. Common to all these countries, however, is the fact that the colonial management system laid more emphasis on the protection of tangible as opposed to intangible heritage, and it also ignored and in most cases destroyed the indigenous management systems that local communities had hitherto used to manage their heritage. Despite gaining their independence from the colonial governments in the early 1960s, these countries, have however, apart from Rwanda, continued to use the inherited colonial legal systems. It is now widely accepted within heritage management circles that unless indigenous heritage management systems are embraced, the local communities tend to feel alienated from their heritage and thus in most cases tend to disregard, ignore, or in some cases destroy the heritage site as it no longer belongs to them but to the state; the end result is that pressure is put on the heritage as the national government institutions do not have adequate financial and human capacity to manage all the heritage resources in their jurisdiction.

Article

The definition of heritage in West Africa must adopt a wider perspective of incorporating tangible and intangible heritage as recognized and defined by UNESCO. Generally, the West African region does not feature monumental heritage as in Europe and the Americas. The few monumental heritage properties belong to the historic period and are located in the Sahel zone (Mali in particular), while the coastal regions possess monumental heritage properties that were essentially relics of the period of European contact and colonialism (Benin Republic, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal). Heritage resources in West Africa are therefore essentially discrete and nondiscrete prehistoric and historic archaeological sites which include rock shelters, relics of ancient settlements, mounds, earthworks, industrial relics such as furnaces and surface finds, isolated historic buildings and spaces, and tangible (traditional architecture and artifacts) and intangible (language, poetry, songs, dances, festivals, beliefs, and value systems) ethnographic resources. Some studies in the 2010s have included heritage resources of all archival materials such as recorded audiovisuals of events and entertainments of the colonial and early postcolonial periods. Heritage management in the West African region has been problematic due to various factors that could be both historical and attitudinal, which include colonialism, intrusion of foreign religions and ideologies, economic and social conditions, insufficient and noneffective legal and policy frameworks for protection and conservation of heritage resources, and a general lack of awareness and interest in matters of heritage by the populace. In spite of these factors, some efforts have been made toward managing heritage in ways that can be interrogated. Government efforts at promoting heritage are more evident in the areas of cultural festivals, dance, and music with the establishment of cultural troupes at various political and administrative levels, thus creating the impression that heritage is limited to intangible cultural resources. Museums are few and far in between, priceless artifacts are still looted and illegally exported to foreign museums to join those looted during the colonial era, and facilities are limited and not standard, while the staff is poorly trained and unmotivated. In the face of expanding infrastructural developments and urbanization, the most appropriate management strategy and practice would be conservation through recording archaeological sites and historic properties.

Article

Paloma de la Peña

The Howiesons Poort is a technological tradition within the Middle Stone Age of southern Africa. This technological tradition shows different characteristics, technical and symbolic (the engraving of ostrich eggshell containers, the appearance of engraved ochre, formal bone tool technology, compound adhesives for hafting and a great variability in hunting techniques), which only developed in an extensive manner much later in other parts of the world. Therefore, the African Middle Stone Age through the material of the Howiesons Poort holds some of the oldest symbolic and complex technologies documented in prehistory. For some researchers, the Howiesons Poort still represents an unusual and ephemeral technological development within the Middle Stone Age, probably related to environmental stress, and as such there are numerous hypotheses for it as an environmental adaptation, whereas for others, on the contrary, it implies that complex cognition, deduced from the elaborated technology and symbolic expressions, was fully developed in the Middle Stone Age.

Article

The Late Iron Age period in Kenya spans between 1000 BP and 200 BP. However, not much is known regarding this time period owing to the past direction of research in Kenya. Investigations concentrated on earlier archaeological periods due to the country’s richness in early human and technological evolution. As such the bias was not only in the research periods at the time but also, in the fact that, only those areas that were believed to yield such materials were explored. Most research was therefore conducted around the Kenyan Rift Valley until the late 1960s onwards, when the British Institute in Eastern Africa and others started to explore later archaeological and historical periods in the whole of Kenya. These researches, however, failed to recognize the evidence of mosaic in Iron Age sites, which was caused by complexities of diverse processes of replacement, admixture, interactions, and resistance in encounters between expanding and existing populations. Thus the name “Iron Age” for the period in question has been maintained denoting a period when iron was the most important or unique phenomenon, in total disregard of all the other social, political, and economic aspects. Use of oral traditions and genetic materials have, however, contributed greatly in filling the gaps, thus making it possible for archaeologists to understand the mosaic nature of archaeological materials resulting from interactions between populations who may have been culturally and socially distinct but lived during the same archaeological period. The available data show that the sites of this period range from open habitations, caves, and rock shelters to drystone structures, and that the human and environmental interactions were mutually beneficial to both. However, deeper understanding of land use and crop utilization is limited due to inadequate botanical datasets, since archaeobotanical recovery methods were rarely employed as a necessary direction of inquiry. This notwithstanding, as opposed to the environmental determinism theory, the populations of this period were not in sync with the environment, but rather, they were active participants who shaped it to suit their needs. Where resources such as water were not readily available, they improvised by tapping and managing them to suit their preferred occupations. Humans took advantage of natural landforms, climatic zones, and vegetation to shape different aspects of their lifestyles including economic subsistence, habitations, trade, and human-to-human interactions especially during environmental stress. Thus these populations must not be seen as helpless receivers from the environment, but active shapers and innovators of their lifestyles.

Article

The coexistence of the Kansyore-Later Stone Age (LSA) hunter-gatherer and the Early Iron Age (EIA)-Urewe-farmer cultural materials in the same cultural deposits and environmental space can no longer be dismissed as accidental admixture. At Kansyore Island in western Uganda, it is clear that the Kansyore hunter-gatherer and Urewe-farmers are two cultural periods presumed to be widely separated in time and space but that coexist together in the same stratigraphic contexts suggesting interaction and coexistence. This implies that the line between the two is blurred. Therefore, the transition from hunting-gathering to farming was not linear but involved forward and backward movements and was not similar in all places but rather complex.

Article

Marlize Lombard and Katharine Kyriacou

“Hunter-gatherer” refers to the range of human subsistence patterns and socio-economies since the Late Pleistocene (after about 126,000 years ago), some of which are still practiced in rare pockets across the globe. Hunter-gatherer research is centered on ethnohistorical records of the lifeways, economies, and interpersonal relationships of groups who gather field and wild foods and hunt for meat. Information collected in this way is cautiously applied to the Stone Age and Paleolithic archaeological records to inform on or build hypotheses about past human behaviors. Late Pleistocene hunter-gatherers possessed the behavioral, technological, and cognitive wherewithal to populate the globe. Hunter-gatherer groups are often relatively egalitarian regarding power and gender relationships. But, as is the case for all mammals, only females bear offspring. This biological reality has socioeconomic and behavioral implications when it comes to food supply. Whereas humans share the principles of the mammalian reproductive process, only humans evolved to occupy a unique cogni-behavioral niche in which we are able to outsmart other animal competition in the quest for survival on any given landscape. Since early on in our history, women of our species gave birth to relatively large-brained offspring with considerable cognitive potential compared to that of other animals. Key to this development is the consumption of specific foods, which contain brain-selective nutrients such as omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and trace elements including iron, iodine, copper, selenium, and zinc. Such nutrients are important for all peoples past and present. Ethnohistorical and nutritional evidence shows that edible plants and small animals, most often gathered by women, represent an abundant and accessible source of “brain foods.” This is in contrast to the “man the hunter” hypothesis where big-game hunting and meat-eating are seen as prime movers in the development of biological and behavioral traits that distinguish humans from other primates.

Article

Stable isotope methods are firmly established as a key tool for investigating the diets of ancient humans, offering insights into broad dietary composition at the scale of an individual’s life. African archaeology and ecosystems have played an important role in the global development of stable isotope approaches, but archaeological applications have been constrained in many African settings by poor preservation conditions for organic remains and limited institutional capacity for large analytical sampling programs. Yet growing numbers of research and training laboratories around the world, declining relative analytical costs, and increasing familiarity among archaeologists and paleoecologists with both the prospects and limitations of stable isotope approaches, all indicate that such methods will continue to increase in importance for modern archaeological practice. Complex ecological patterning in carbon, nitrogen, and other isotopes within Africa offers a rich background for interpretation. Carbon isotopes largely reflect patterning in vegetation, with the major isotopic distinction between tropical grasses and most other plants aiding the reconstruction of broad food classes. Aquatic and terrestrial environments may also differ sharply in carbon isotope patterning, providing a tool for investigating marine food exploitation. Nitrogen isotope patterning, by comparison with carbon isotopes, is more complex and less well-characterized in many African environments but has been useful for identifying the consumption of marine resources. Other isotopes, including sulfur, strontium, oxygen, and metal isotopes, such as calcium and zinc, may offer complementary insights that can help to interpret ancient food systems. Analyses of enamel carbon isotopes from eastern and South African hominins have demonstrated the significance of diverse dietary resources for millions of years among several groups of hominins, including the gracile and robust australopithecines and early Homo. The puzzle of extensive consumption of 13C-enriched foods, especially among the eastern African robust australopithecines, has driven wide-ranging research into the dietary diversity of hominin species, targeting questions of ecological niche separation and dietary flexibility. In southern African coastal settings, stable isotope evidence for differential access to dietary resources among foraging groups has demonstrated the maintenance of more sedentary, territorial settlement systems during some periods in the Holocene. Research in these fields is ongoing, with new insights emerging from applications of alternative isotopic systems, increased sampling resolution, and sophisticated statistical modeling approaches.

Article

Archaeological heritage is fragile and nonrenewable. In Africa, it is vulnerable to developmental projects in construction, mining, and agriculture as well as intentional and unintentional vandalism through everyday use and tourism. Looting, illegal trade of antiquities, and terrorism have also emerged as other significant threats to archaeological heritage in Africa. Looting and vandalism of sites and objects result from lax monitoring mechanisms and a general lack of awareness of archaeological matters among the public. Although most African countries have the legal protection of archaeological heritage, the effectiveness of these has been under question. African heritage legislations have been criticized for the lack of predevelopment assessments that would ensure the protection of recorded and unrecorded archaeological heritage. They have also been censured for protecting just the physical aspects of archaeological heritage, leaving out the intangible aspects that actually give the heritage value, especially among African communities. Another challenge was the exclusion of local communities and customary management systems in the protection of archaeological heritage. Provisions for counteracting looting and illegal trade in antiquities, coming especially from archaeological sites, were also considered weak and requiring improvements. The response to the debate on the effectiveness of the legal protection of heritage has been varied across the continent. Some African countries have responded by writing new laws, amending old ones, or providing other supporting legal provisions such as national cultural policies or regulations. Countries that have instituted new legal provisions include Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, Mali, Egypt, Mauritania, and the Republic of the Congo. Those who reworked their protective mechanisms have attempted to address many of the issues raised. Countries such as Namibia, Botswana, and Mali have included clearly defined provisions for predevelopment assessments. Others such as Liberia included archaeological heritage in their environmental protection laws. Although fewer countries have had legislation to protect intangible aspects, supporting legal provisions such as national cultural policies have helped in this regard. However, very little has been done on the inclusion of customary laws and systems of archaeological protection. Going forward, African nations have to quickly consider emerging issues such as digital manipulation, heritage-based product development, increased need for intervention conservation, and sustainable economic utilization of heritage for the development of individuals, communities, and nations. The legislative process in Africa has to be expedited to quickly and efficiently deal with these issues before they cause harm to the archaeological heritage.

Article

Michael Chazan

Levallois refers to a way of making stone tools that is a significant component of the technological adaptations of both Neanderthals and early modern humans. Although distinctive Levallois artifacts were identified already in the 19th century, a consensus on the definition of the Levallois and clear criteria for distinguishing Levallois from non-Levallois artifacts remain elusive. At a general level, Levallois is one variant on prepared core technology. In a prepared core approach to stone tool manufacture, the worked material (the core) is configured and maintained to allow for the production of detached pieces (flakes) whose morphology is constrained by the production process. The difficulty for archaeologists is that Levallois refers to a particular process of manufacture rather than a discrete finality. The study of Levallois exposes limitations of typological approaches to artifact analysis and forces a consideration of the challenges in creating a solid empirical basis for characterizing technological processes.

Article

Nicholas Taylor

The Lupemban is an industry of the Middle Stone Age (MSA) that is found across the Congo Basin and on its plateau margins in central Africa. It takes its name from the site of Lupemba that was discovered in 1944 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC, then the Belgian Congo). The Lupemban’s distinctive toolkit of elongated lanceolate bifaces, core-axes, points, blades, and other small tools coincides with the equatorial forest belt and is suitable for constructing hafted implements, which has led to speculation it was a special and specific prehistoric adaptation to rainforest foraging. Although poorly dated across most of its geographic range, radiometric dates for the Lupemban at Twin Rivers (Zambia) show it is at least ~265 ka years old, placing it among the oldest known expressions of the regional MSA. As such, the Lupemban bears on 21st-century debates about the evolution of complex cognitive abilities and behaviors that characterize the emergence of Homo sapiens at or before 300 ka bp. In spite of the Lupemban’s potential importance for understanding the evolution of technology, human–environment interactions, and cognition in early Homo sapiens, the industry remains enigmatic and poorly understood. Logistical, ecological, and political challenges continue to impede fieldwork in central Africa. Moreover, at sites including Gombe Point (DRC), severe soil bioturbation by tree roots has caused the vertical displacement of buried artifacts, which corrupts the basic integrity of stratigraphic sequences. This problem is known to be widespread and means that after 100 years of research, central Africa still lacks a refined Stone Age cultural sequence. Consequently, very little is known about spatiotemporal variability within the Lupemban, or its specific environmental or cultural adaptations. At the site of Kalambo Falls (Zambia), the industry is found in secondary but stratified context, which, as of the early 21st century, offers the best glimpse into Lupemban technology and its potential evolutionary significance.

Article

The dynamic between indigenous descendant communities, archaeologists, and other heritage professionals in Mexico and Central America embodies a distinct regional history of relations between native peoples and the state. In contrast to the United States and other regions, where indigenous polities have a history of legal sovereignty, the legacy of Spanish colonialism has created few parallel avenues for native Mesoamericans. Linguistic, cosmological, and social continuities between living and ancient indigenous populations have long been an emphasis of Mesoamericanist anthropology. Nevertheless, laws for the management of heritage in those countries often marginalize descendant communities from the use and stewardship of the material traces left behind by their ancestors. The ethical dimensions of this dynamic are further complicated by the fact that many activities that are criminalized by existing heritage laws are, in fact, consistent with long-standing traditions of landscape use and material recycling in these societies. Lacking the sovereignty principle that shapes interactions between indigenous communities and archaeologists in the United States, a more inclusive practice of heritage in Mesoamerica involves new kinds of pragmatic dialogue and accommodation.

Article

Maritime archaeology in sub-Saharan Africa is still in its early development stage. An extensive literature survey indicated that relatively few projects of this nature have been undertaken in these parts. Even fewer warrant the adjective “scientific,” based on the dearth of peer-reviewed academic publications that have appeared to date. Based on the survey, it seems that most research is undertaken in South Africa, Kenya, and Namibia, and the emphasis therefore lies with these countries.

Article

Jorge de Torres Rodriguez

During the medieval period, Somaliland and the rest of the Horn of Africa went through a number of important processes that laid the foundations of many of the historical dynamics of the 20th and 21st centuries in the region. These transformations included the consolidation of Islam, the expansion of international trade networks, the movement of the Somali people to the west, and the emergence of a score of Muslim principalities that progressively consolidated their control over significant territories and populations. Although the general outline of the period is well known through a number of Ethiopian, Arabian, and European texts, material evidence for this period is still scarce, especially in Somaliland where research had been discontinued until the 2010s due to political reasons. Research conducted during the 2010s has shown the coexistence of a network of permanent settlements with a rich nomadic culture, expressed in coastal trading posts, inland gathering places, and funerary monuments. Permanent settlements varied widely in size and functions, but showed a remarkable uniformity in terms of architecture, urbanism, and material culture. Nomadic gathering sites, on the contrary, show significant differences but share a common feature: their role as fixed nodes in an otherwise fluid landscape, where groups of different backgrounds could interact safely. Both types of sites were deeply involved in a complex trade system that connected the Horn of Africa with the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East, India, and China, with Somaliland playing a key role in the import, export, and transport of commodities and goods. Nomads, urban dwellers, and foreign merchants collaborated in the maintenance of this key economic activity that, unlike in other regions of east Africa, did not lead to the emergence of urban centers by the coast. The western region of Somaliland shows clear similarities with nearby regions of Ethiopia, and was probably soon under the control or influence of the Muslim sultanates that ruled the region. On the contrary, the central region remained mostly a nomadic area until well into the 13th century. At this moment, the increase of trade around Berbera, the arrival of Islam, and the progressive influence of the Muslim states altered significantly the balance of the region, leading to the emergence of permanent settlements and deep changes in its social and economic parameters. Further to the east, the territory seems to have stayed a nomad’s land, far away from the Muslim states’ influence, although active relationships were established between the Somali clans and the Sultanate of Adal during the 15th and 16th centuries. In the 16th century, the complex balance established in previous centuries suffered a series of major setbacks due to the disturbance of the maritime trade routes by the Portuguese, the defeat of the Sultanate of Adal against the Christian kingdom of Abyssinia, and the Oromo expansion from the south. The network of permanent settlements was almost completely dismantled and state structures disappeared in the region until the 20th century, with most of the population embracing the nomadic life that has become the traditional Somali lifestyle into the 21st century.

Article

The megaliths of the northwestern part of the Central African Republic consist of monuments built with numerous large knapped stones crested on a mound. They appear at the beginning of the first millennium cal bc underlining a socioeconomic change that needs to be better characterized. During the following millennia, the archaeological record attests to an intensification of the building of monuments, together with a diversification of their form and function. Appendages such as funeral chambers begin to appear at this stage. These features have led scholars to explore the relationship of these monuments in the social dynamics and symbolic systems of their communities. The emergence of megalithism in a society marks major shifts in their cultural, economic, and political development, as the scale of these works requires significant coordination of materials and resources. In the Eastern Adamawa Plateau, these massive stoneworks allow the excavation and pinpointing of the development iron metallurgy, the diversification of funerary practices, the political development of villages and of the centers of ceramic production.

Article

Gregor D. Bader, Viola C. Schmid, and Andrew W. Kandel

The African Middle Stone Age (MSA) is the period in human history spanning roughly from 300,000 until 30,000 years ago. Here, we focus on the archaeological record of South Africa, with occasional glimpses at neighboring countries (Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia). During this time, modern humans evolved in Africa and brought forth a number of key innovations, including art and symbolism, personal ornaments, burial practices, and advanced methods of tool production using different raw materials such as stone, wood, or bone. The MSA is subdivided into several substages based on regional chrono-cultural differences, such as MSA II or Mossel Bay, Still Bay, Howiesons Poort, Sibudan, and the final MSA. Previous research has tended to concentrate on just two of those stages, namely, the Still Bay and Howiesons Poort, as they were considered to be pinnacles of innovation. In the past years, however, assemblages from other periods have gained increasing attention. Some of the major research questions include the nature and timing of both the onset and end of the MSA. The focus on diachronic cultural dynamics not only related to the Still Bay and Howiesons Poort techno-complexes and the increasing awareness of regional diversification during different phases, especially during Marine Isotope Stage 3 (57,000–29,000 years ago), but also to the inherent problems arising from them.

Article

Pamela R. Willoughby

In evolutionary terms, a modern human is a member of our own species, Homo sapiens. Fossil skeletal remains assigned to Homo sapiens appear possibly as far back as 300,000 or 200,000 years ago in Africa. The first modern human skeletal remains outside of that continent are found at two sites in modern Israel, the Mugharet es Skhūl and Jebel Qafzeh; these date between 90,000 and 120,000 years ago. But this just represents a short, precocious excursion out of Africa in an unusually pleasant environmental phase. All humans who are not of direct sub-Saharan African ancestry are descended from one or more populations who left Africa around 50,000 years ago and went on to colonize the globe. Surprisingly, they successfully interbred with other kinds of humans outside of Africa, leaving traces of their archaic genomes still present in living people. Modern human behavior, however, implies people with innovative technologies, usually defined by those seen with the earliest Upper Paleolithic people in Eurasia. Some of these innovations also appear at various times in earlier African sites, but the entire Upper Paleolithic package, once known as the Human Revolution, does not. Researchers have had to split the origin of modern biology and anatomy from the beginnings of modern cultural behavior. The first clearly evolves much earlier than the latter. Or does it?

Article

Joshua Kumbani and Oliver Vogels

Rock art is ubiquitous in southern Africa. It can be assumed that playing musical bows was a similarly widespread cultural tradition in prehistoric southern Africa. But discerning musical performances from other uses of the bow in the rock art is not trivial. Qualified arguments for musical performances therefore rest on the ethnographic record. Depictions of musical bows have been identified only in two rock art collections from South Africa and Namibia. In South Africa musical bows are known from the Maloti Drakensberg mountains in the KwaZulu-Natal Province, and Maclear District in the Eastern Cape Province. In Namibia, the musical bows have been identified mainly in the mountainous massif called Dâureb (its local Damara name) or Brandberg (its foreign Afrikaans name) and the surrounding region in northwestern central Namibia. The occurrence of musical bows in the rock art sheds light on some of the musical instruments that were used in the past and their playing techniques. This is important in music archeological studies, which involve the analysis of music-related artifacts or sound-producing artifacts and their cultural background from the archeological record, or the investigation of the effects of sound in past societies. Rock art is an important source that can be used in music archeological studies. Ethnographic information also gives another depth in describing musical bows and allows one to differentiate contemporary music cultures from the past. There are some notable similarities and differences between the musical bows from South Africa and Namibia. These similarities and differences come in the form of the technical aspects of how sound is produced (organology) by the musical bows and playing techniques, exhibiting distinct music cultures. What stands out is that in most cases the string is turned away from the player, which is different when a bow is used for shooting, as well as the use of a tapping stick to play the bow. The musical bow depictions in Namibia do not have resonators, whereas most of those depicted in South Africa do. However, the musical bows in Namibia are braced or have a string that divides the bow string into two sections (tuning noose), whereas none have been recorded in South Africa.

Article

The term “ochre” has many meanings: a colored stone, a pigment, sunscreen, a curiosity item, a mustard hue, or even an object used for ritual. Ochre found at archaeological sites is described as a range of earthy, ferruginous rocks with red–yellow–purple streaks. The use of ochre in the past has proven valuable for interpreting not only cognitive capabilities of its users but also for its potential to shed light on behavioral and social factors. The late Pleistocene, and specifically the Middle Stone Age in southern Africa, is a time of significant behavioral and cognitive advances for Homo sapiens—this coincides with the habitual use of ochre. By looking at the collection and use of ochre in the African Middle Stone Age, placed within a global and temporal context, important behavioral conclusions can be made. Ochre has many potential uses, making interpretations of ochre use in the past complicated. Ethnographic and modern analogies are considered as well as the experimental work that has been produced by numerous researchers. All accounts have deepened our understanding of the many ways that ochre may have been used in the distant past. It is likely that both its color and mineralogical content dictated its use in the past.

Article

The South Asian subcontinent contains a vast mosaic of environments and lifeways. Agriculture and pastoralism are important food producing systems within this mosaic but coexist alongside hunter-gatherer-fisher-forager groups, shifting cultivators, and nomadic pastoralists that are often marginalized. This interplay between different lifeways has deep roots in South Asian history and prehistory. Despite this, discussions of early South Asian agriculture and pastoralism often depict a limited and narrow dataset, confined to a few sites. As a result it has been argued that the origins of agriculture and pastoralism in South Asia are hard to pinpoint. However, archaeobotanical, zooarchaeological, and genetic data, alongside the growing archaeological record, are showing that the South Asian subcontinent is a rich ground for exploring the complexity and nuance of changing lifeways during the transition to agro-pastoralism. People in South Asia incorporated both nonnative crops and animals from southwest Asia, Africa, and China into existing systems, domesticated local taxa in multiple regions, and continued to exploit wild resources throughout periods of established agro-pastoral systems. A diversity of Neolithics are therefore demonstrated within the subcontinent, and the mixing of traditions is a hallmark of South Asia and is critical for discussions about what early agriculture and pastoralism looked like and what the impacts of changing lifeways and economies were over time.