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date: 01 February 2023

The Development of Archaeology in Africafree

The Development of Archaeology in Africafree

  • Nonofho Mathibidi NdobochaniNonofho Mathibidi NdobochaniUniversity of the Witwatersrand


Africa is the cradle of humankind, with the origin, evolution, and dispersal of hominids understood from this continent. It was not left out in the quest for knowledge on how human beings lived in the past, where they lived, what they used and ate, as well as changes that occurred through time.

The development of archaeology in Africa, as elsewhere, had two aspects to it—the volume and inclination of work done as evidenced by extensive fieldwork and publications, and the change in approach that saw a shift toward philosophical and methodological concerns. Terminology broadened as there was a shift from merely establishing evidence of occupation and the presence of material culture, to studying the subtleties and processes underlying the material culture.

The human mind is complex; it generated a dynamic material culture temporally and spatially, and notwithstanding the environmental impact on past cultures, humanity also colonized landscapes. Appreciation of an interchange between humanity and the environment became necessary to sync and contextualize the development of ideas, concepts, and worldviews, and whether they emerged from within societies or were externally influenced, they were shared across time and space—necessitating multidisciplinary approaches to studying the past.

To an archaeological scholar in Africa, the problem is compounded. The study of the past has always been from an observer’s point of view, resulting in the call to “decolonize archaeology”—Africans were alienated in studying the past and the tendency was to have them not see this past as their heritage. Archaeology must be relevant to Africa’s issues of environmental management, food security, and socioeconomic challenges such as youth and women’s empowerment. What can the discipline offer? Is the archaeology of Africa accessible to its population, and do we see possibilities for an intergenerational beneficiation of Africa’s past? Most importantly, Africa still has a wealth of knowledge to offer in the study of the paleoenvironment, human evolution, food production and processing, historical ecology, multidisciplinary approaches, and computer technology. Their contribution to a better understanding of the rich, complex, and dynamic African past is of utmost importance.


  • Applied Anthropology
  • Archaeology

Contextualizing the African Archaeological Discourse

An interest in old material culture, structures, and monuments in various parts of the world led to the development of the discipline of archaeology, whose primary object is studying and understanding the past (Clarke 1973; Murray and Evans 2008). The act of collecting material culture resulted in present societies gaining some knowledge about the past. Ancient settlements and objects could tell stories of human and technological developments as well as economic activities and wealth, and this attracted a range of interest from treasure hunters to those fascinated by modeling the present by learning from the past. Although archaeological writing began early in some parts of the world, it did not do so in all parts, nor at the same rate. Also, while documentary sources may be written with a specific interest in certain sectors of the society, material culture, notwithstanding postdepositional processes, can be representative of all members of society. Basic and unsystematic as it was, this led to more interest in activities of past societies and the advancement of terminologies, concepts, and theoretical underpinnings against which methods were developed.

The archaeological scholarship in Europe and the Americas attributes the emergence of the discipline to three main phases: (a) the Antiquarian and Enlightenment phase characteristic of the period from 1700 to 1850s; (b) the New Archaeology or Processual Archaeology phase, predominant from the 1850 to 1980s; and (c) the Post-Processual Archaeology phase, largely typifying the period from the 1980s to the present. These three phases have shaped archaeological practice, theory, and methods (Gamble 2015; Isaac 1971; Murray and Evans 2008; Steibing 1994). The key issue for archaeologists and those interested in the past has always been dating and the order of things, and this is not surprising since it is a discipline that deals with the past—what happened in the past, and unavoidably the stages or sequence. The wealth of information obtainable from material culture in the 18th and early 19th centuries facilitated the development of basic field techniques, time periods, typologies, as well as the mapping and classification of cultures. Notable at this stage is that emphasis was still on issues regarding the presence of material culture. Questions dominating this phase related to the type of material culture encountered and its geographical spread. This scenario inevitably saw a world divided into regional archaeologies, including African archaeology. At this stage, understanding material culture took interest in its quantities and quality, and as such being explanatory in approach as opposed to interpretive.

The novel contribution by Christian Jürgensen Thomsen and his Three Age System (Stone, Bronze, and Iron Age period) set the stage for investigating cultural evolution and technological developments. Still on the curiosity of temporal developments, the work of Adam Smith ordered past societies into hunter-gatherers, farmers, and the more civilized societies. Attention was given to who lived where, who was capable of doing what, and who brought about change in cultures—resulting in the notion of African civilization owing to external influence (Murray and Evans 2008). There was a tendency to apply a “one size fits all” methodology toward the study of the past. Early European archaeology, for example, was so invested in fitting past human life into a ten-thousand-year period that this approach compromised other parts of the world such as Africa despite its rich past spanning about 2.6 million years (Mitchell and Lane 2013). Where evidence of early civilizations in Africa was encountered, those parts of Africa were considered to be outside the continent’s boundary or it was thought that there was direct contact of those areas with the developed world—living examples being sentiments that characterized early research on Egyptian and Great Zimbabwe archaeology (Connah 2013; Hall 1996). Nonetheless, the 18th and 19th centuries generated a wealth of knowledge on African archaeology, and provided a basis against which suppositions about the past could be challenged and new paradigms advanced.

The nature of archaeology prevalent in the 20th century was robust and comprehensive, seeking to understand material culture in context—in context of each other, in context of its makers, in context of the environment within which it existed, and in the context of present cultures. There must be a deliberate move to understand individual traits that facilitated large-scale and complex cultural patterns. If need arises, the present must be used to reconstruct these past cultures and better understand issues of context. This approach can help archaeologists to appreciate that observing processes and linkages to activities at sites, drawing conclusions from results of vigorously tested datasets, including experimentation (Binford 1962, 1982), can lead to robust reasoning, propositions, and debates in studying the past (Binford 1972). The past must be scientifically studied and dated; notable examples of methods characterizing this paradigm are radiocarbon dating, potassium-argon dating, and Marine Isotope Stage sequences (Connah 2013).

The other scholarly approach was that there must be a shift from solely depending on postulations and quantification of the past, to approaches that read and interpret it, as a way of probing the meaning behind material culture (which has an abstract and utilitarian value) to better understand past human behavior (Hodder 1982, 1994; Hodder and Hutson 2003; Tilley 1990). As the discipline of archaeology took interest in understanding human behavior, Shanks and Tilley (1987, 211) emphasize that “the temporal nature of archaeology makes it a social construct,” especially that the past is a puzzle and “requires completion by the interpreting archaeologist.” Hodder (1994, 112) also considers the past to be a “historically situated product” which must be read and interpreted. According to Beaudry et al. (1996) artifacts are actively talking to researchers and the meaning behind them must be investigated and interpreted. Despite their fictional rivalry, the different schools of thought in archaeology facilitated voluminous archaeological research in Africa, ranging from ideological considerations in archaeology (Schmidt and Mapunda 1997), issues of identity (Gosselain 2000; Sylvain 2002), religion (Insoll 2003), and human behavior (Gelabert, Asouti, and Martí 2011). Actually, Clark (1973) considers varying approaches to the study of archaeology to be a healthy process adding to the growth of the discipline, as such approaches are merely alienations caused by professionals as they establish their expertise and authority over knowledge of the past. Tilley (1990, 128) is of the view that archaeological theory and practice must be allowed to create “new pasts, new knowledges and new truths.” Mitchell and Lane (2013) also think that research agendas and conclusions are bound to diverge from historical thought processes when dealing with the dynamic human past, especially with the advantages of improved methodologies and multidisciplinary approaches.

Archaeological theory and practice in Africa offer a broader base for understanding humanity (Connah 2013; Okpoko 1991). This led to Africa’s popularity in investigations of human evolutionary ideas, cultural complexities, religion, population movement, human-environment relations, and complex socioeconomic and political thought processes that characterized ancient African societies (Hall 1996; Robertshaw 1990).

Africa’s Past

The Portrayed and the Historicized African Past

The archaeology of Africa was considered younger than that of other parts of the world—partly because of limited research that had taken place at that time, and largely because of the notion that significant contributions to understanding of the past could only be externally influenced, and carried out by persons of a certain qualification and experience. This is the case despite Binford and Binford’s (1968, 17) argument that the significance of archaeological findings must be dependent on the extent to which they can be confirmed or refuted through “hypothesis testing not by passing judgement on the personal qualifications of the person putting forth the proposition.” Whether this notion was remembered or ignored by protagonists of the very paradigm when setting research agendas for Africa is a matter for another day.

The earliest archaeological publications on African archaeology, especially those that had an interest in demonstrating that Africa had something to offer, tended to be skewed to its history and development (Gabel 1985; Musonda 1990; Posnansky 1982; Robertshaw 1987, 1990; Stahl 2005). Robertshaw (1990, 3) argues that when the archaeology discipline matured, there was the realization that “what archaeologists do and what they consider to be ‘good’ archaeology are products of the way in which the subject has developed.” He put together an eighteen-chapter book on A History of African Archaeology which he introduces by citing key publications that dealt with the subject before his book, although he is quick to note that they were largely descriptive in nature. The book itself covers perspectives on different parts of Africa, with a chapter by Bruce Trigger putting the history of African archaeology in a world perspective. Although Martin Hall’s book, Archaeology Africa, was not dedicated to the history of the discipline, he gives a chronological account of key archaeological research expeditions in Africa from 1798–1961 (Hall 1996). Some expeditions, just like in other parts of the world were antiquarian in approach.

20th-Century African Archaeology

Once archaeology in Europe and in the Americas was well developed and sequences established, scientific methodologies adopted in the investigation and interpretation of the past, and professional ideologies on the past becoming patronage to archaeological theory, Africa was seen as the best candidate for research. North, East, and South Africa became central to the application of scientific methods and dating techniques. Geological, paleoanthropological, and archaeological work in these areas from 1919 onward facilitated later researches that would outline both conclusive and testable ideologies on the paleoenvironment and evolution of mankind. Robertshaw (1987, 1995), Hall (1996), and Phillipson (2005) give accounts of these various researches. The extensive work on human evolution by the Leakey family in this region had long-lasting interest for investigating subsequent cultural sequences—it is not surprising that East Africa is extensively researched and had well-established archaeological institutes (the British Institute in East Africa) as early as 1960.

Food Production

Besides the rich archaeology of Egypt (O’Connor 1990; O’Connor and Reid 2003) and the Sahel region, the northern part of Africa is known for its evidence on early forms of flora and fauna exploitation—leading to the domestication of some animals, and settled life. East Africa has contributed to much research on herding practices and ecological responses to climatic variations (Blench and MacDonald 2006; Lane 2010). West Africa also has a worthwhile pre-contact archaeology (Crowder 1977; Dueppen 2016; Scerri 2017; Sutton 1982).

The extensive research on toolmaking, exploitation of fauna and flora, herding and farming, population movement, and past climatic variations has helped to contextualize Africa’s past. The rich African past spanning more than two million years has enabled the development of a confident taxonomy of Africa’s past into more specific and relevant timescales such as the Early, Middle, and Late Stone Age, as well as the Early, Middle, and Late Iron Age (Hall 1996; Mitchell 2002; Phillipson 2005; Scerri 2017; Sutton 1982), and with fields such as ethnoarchaeology, an interest in the present. As Posnansky (1982) pointed out, African archaeology had come of age, and her stories could be told.

The Stone Age period of Africa was extensively studied, with the idea to work on existing knowledge (e.g., Clark 1959; Sampson 1972; van Riet Lowe 1947, 1952) and establish technological developments that could guide meaningful classifications (Deacon 1990; Fage and Oliver 1975; Goodwin and van Riet Lowe 1929; Singer and Wymer 1982).

Food acquisition and processing techniques, provenance of the materials to understand resource utilization and catchment areas, as well as cultural patterns (see the volume edited by Kent 1998 for comparisons elsewhere), chronologies, transitions, and interactions were studied (Holl 1993; Parkington 2001; Phillipson 2005; Russell and Lander 2015; Stahl 1993; Wetterstrom 1993). Southern Africa contributes a wealth of knowledge to understanding Africa’s physical anthropology, both the early and later stages of human development—through the notable work at Sterkfontein. It became clear through these studies that Africa has a longer stone tradition than other parts of the world, and the Stone Age culture is equally informative in understanding past socioeconomic activities and political processes.

Humanity and the Environment

As in other parts of the world, archaeological material was studied in the context of its climatic environment (several chapters in The Archaeology of Africa: Food, Metals, and Towns edited by Shaw, Sinclair, Andah, and Okpoko in 1993 are dedicated to this aspect, with the need to understand the evolution of landscapes and how they impacted human occupations [see also Holliday 1992]). Examples are given on how climatic variations in central Africa facilitated transition from a predominantly hunting and gathering way of life to food production as conditions became drier (Eggert 1993).

The nature of archaeology at this stage was, warily or unwarily, establishing the link between cultural developments of stone tool users to later food-producing societies. Who were the stone tool users? Did they only hunt and collect from the wild or did they also produce food—for example, by herding? How did food-production ideas transition from one culture to another, and travel from one society to another? Was this process gradual or rapid, and was it entirely an environmental effect or did internal processes played a key role (Blench and MacDonald 2006; Ehret 1993; Mitchell 2002; Shepherd 2003; Wetterstrom 1993)? What lessons can be learned where there is no apparent evidence for cultures impacting each other, as demonstrated by investigations that show that the northern parts of Africa were engaged in farming long before the southern parts? These concerns gave rise to issues of diffusion and population migration as well as notable research themes and concepts such as the “archaeology of contact” (see Lyons and Papadopoulos 2002; see also a volume edited by Murray 2004 giving a synopsis of this issue in South Africa, North America, and New Zealand; and Schmidt 2006). Another much debated issue in African archaeology was the relations between people and their resources such as land and the environment, dubbed the “Kalahari debate” (Barnard 2007; Bollig and Gewald 2000; Chami et al. 2001; Kuper 1982; Wilmsen 1989).

Pastoralism in Africa

Pastoralism drew a lot of attention as the archaeology of Africa focused on food production to understand past economies (see earlier work such as McHugh 1974). One may once again draw the attention of the reader to The Archaeology of Africa: Food, Metals, and Towns edited by Shaw, Sinclair, Andah, and Okpoko in 1993. Of the more than eight hundred pages in this book, almost one hundred pages of it are dedicated to a discussion on pastoralism; of particular importance is a chapter by Roger Blench. He gives an account of earlier studies on livestock, and argues that faunal studies and linguistic evidence could be used as a guide to understanding the origin, type, distribution, and movement of livestock. As an example, he shows that in terms of cattle, the humpless shorthorns are the first to reach sub-Saharan Africa, and that there were specialized cattle herders. Brandt (1996) provides a synopsis of herding in East Africa, with the Dongodien site at Lake Turkana having a date of 4,000 Before Present (see also Blench and MacDonald 2006). Actually, in 2013, Bollig, Schegg, and Wotzka put together a book entirely on pastoralism, Pastoralism in Africa: Past, Present and Future, with its sixteen chapters focusing on different aspects of herding practices. Publications such as this one demonstrate that African archaeology is the best candidate for studying continuity and change in pastoralism. Southern Africa was not left out in the investigation of cattle herding, with much attention given to the tradition (Deacon et al. 1978; Kinahan 1986; Plug 1996; Sadr 1997, 2003; A. Smith 1992; Voigt 1986); and just like in other parts of Africa, subsequent work was devoted to exploring the socioeconomic and political processes associated with cattle ownership (Huffman 1986; Kuper 1982) and management (Denbow 1979, 1982; Hitchcock 1979; J. Smith 2005).

The wealth of research that has gone into pastoralism in East Africa has sparked interest in the investigation of past and present herding practices in the context of the African savanna ecosystem. According to Shahack-Gross, Marshall, and Weiner (2003), the spread of pastoralism can be investigated through micromorphology, mineralogy, phytolith analysis, and soil chemistry. Their study used the Kisongo Maasai to demonstrate that there are more durable indicators for livestock enclosures besides dung, and that small stock areas have rare minerals such as monohydocalcite. Muchiru, Western, and Reid (2009) are of the view that past herding activities have an impact on plant and nutrient succession in the ecosystem, and conclude that pastoral settlement cycles and livestock numbers are key in investigating nutrient redistribution and vegetation recolonization.

Complexity and the African Past

Single cultural entities and specific historic events must be understood to map a broader picture on cultural evolution and complexity, which are evidenced by adaptations and colonization of environmental landscapes. This occurred as the social, economic, and political systems of past societies advanced—a notion that is characteristic of the Marxist archaeological research approach. As noted by Tilley (2007, 18), the archaeological practice must understand material culture in the context of sociopolitical and sociocultural parameters. The issue of complexity in Africa has been explored at length, and one may want to note that once again, there was need to demonstrate that Africa has something to offer both in terms of correcting false statements and offering new knowledge about the continent (see, for example, debates on the sociopolitical value of African metallurgy by Chirikure 2007, 2015). Connah, Forgotten Africa: An Introduction to Its Archaeology (2004), has done justice to the archaeology of Africa, explicitly demonstrating evidence of complexity in Africa and how these past societies thrived despite varying environmental conditions (see also Hassan 1999 on the discussion of early evidence of urbanism and social interactions in Egypt; and McIntosh 2005). Following the debates at the Pan-African Association of Prehistory and Related Studies, Pwiti and Soper (1996) edited an 857-page book that looked at African archaeology from its early stages to more complex ways of life. Other notable contributions are by Finneran (2007), with the discussion of Ethiopian archaeology, and those by Andah (1993), McIntosh and McIntosh (1984), and Monroe (2014), on West African states. The highly contested issues (right from the Renaissance period in archaeology to the present) of complexity in southern Africa cannot go unnoticed. This led to volumes of research on Great Zimbabwe and Mapungubwe (a few notable debates include Huffman 2000, 2009; Pikirayi 2013; Pikirayi and Chirikure 2011; and Sinclair et al. 1993). The rich and diverse archaeology of Africa is often understood better when scholars periodically put these voluminous researches into single volumes—one of the good examples being The Oxford Handbook of African Archaeology edited by Mitchell and Lane (2013). It does not only offer insightful debates on the comprehensive work that has been done on the continent, but also contextualizes the past in the present and offers possible areas for future research.

Historical Archaeological Approaches and Institutionalization of the African Past

The availability of written records facilitated historical archaeology approaches that used text to augment archaeological findings. This field expanded research on Africa’s past, leading to publications specifically on the continent—examples include Historical Archaeology, edited by Hall and Silliman (2009), and African Historical Archaeologies, by Reid and Lane (2003). Schmidt (2006) notes that historical archaeological studies in Africa must take interest in issues of social memory, indigenous knowledge, and oral traditions, as a way of ensuring the inclusion of knowledge from nonprofessionals. One may want to reiterate that this approach comes in handy especially for research agendas on people and their cattle and land resources (Bollig and Gewald 2000), or for research on people and how they related with their environment before and after contact (Chami et al. 2001), as well as understanding subtle prehistoric and historic trade activities (see Haour and Christie 2019 on import and use of cowries in West Africa). It is worth noting that this period did not only increase the volume of research in Africa, it also led to the institutionalization of the discipline. For example, the early 20th century saw the establishment of the first museum at Zimbabwe in 1901, Uganda in 1908, Kenya in 1909, and Dar es Salaam in 1934, while research institutes are evident from the 1950s in Kenya and Dakar (Hall 1996). The past was now becoming more and more contested and an appropriated phenomenon. There are rivalries amongst nations, scholars, and institutions regarding ownership of archaeological materials, entitlement, and identity, and issues of who possesses better skills and authority in studying the past come into play. As an example, the Cambridge University Press and the Oxford University Press played a key role in funding research expeditions in Africa, with special interest largely in the archaeology of East and South Africa (Murray and Evans 2008).

Decolonizing the African Past

A decolonized archaeological discourse was not only a concern for Africa, and this aspect has proven to hurt and divide the archaeological fraternity (a Delle et al. 2000; McDavid 2002). The call for the adoption of an indigenous archaeology as a way of decolonizing the way archaeology is conducted has been made by Atalay (2006). McIntosh (1994) indicated that it is okay for perspectives on the African past to change, and Lane (2011) argued that acceptance of these issues is in itself a platform for investigating possibilities for a robust and beneficial postcolonial archaeology in Africa. This also provides a window for mapping the future of African archaeology (Pikirayi 2015). While a decolonized archaeological thought process and practice is still in its infancy, Falola and Jennings (2002) argue that there is light at the end of the tunnel. The archaeological knowledge must be Africanized by appreciating the various sources of knowledge in Africa. These can be used to rewrite or influence theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of the African past. In a nutshell, they want Africa to have academic institutional development, financial freedom, and active participation in setting up quality research agendas and producing publications.

Africa Studied in the Context of the Present

While local communities in Africa, just like in other parts of the world, had the right to identify with archaeological material, there was evidence that most of the contemporary African cultures had a link to the past. This made Africa’s present way of life a laboratory for understanding past human behavior and cultures through the present—an approach promoted by the Middle Range theory. David, Kramer, and Nicholas in their book Ethnoarchaeology in Action (2001) give an account of the nature and origin of this subdiscipline, and demonstrate its key contribution in studying Africa’s past. Among the many questions they ask are: What underlying processes took place in the production of material culture? What was the meaning then and now? How did people interact with their environment? The field of ethnoarchaeology has attracted research in areas of site formation and abandonment processes, an example being the monograph by Cameron, and Tomka (1993). It was also important to understand past cultures and interactions amongst foragers, potters, smiths, and traders (Kusimba and Kusimba 2011). Agricultural activities needed to be rethought (Denham, Iriarte, and Vrydaghs 2016), the social context of African metallurgy reinvestigated (Bisson et al. 2000), and the role of women in the archaeological discourse as well as mortuary practices investigated (David, Kramer, and Nicholas 2001). Noteworthy is the fact that the role of women in archaeology was broadened to include the contribution of women in the generation of the past (Barich et al. 1998), and the role played by African women and Africanist women archaeologists in research agendas that could equally penetrate the archaeological market (see Berns 1993; Claassen 1994; Cohen 2006).

The Maasai of East Africa again became significant in the study of past herding practices. A classic example is a study by Shahack-Gross, Simons, and Ambrose (2008) who studied the Rombo area in southern Kenya. They used micromorphology, mineralogy, phytolith analysis to study the isotopic composition of organic nitrogen. They also studied the sequence of abandonment of livestock enclosures. They observed that the heavy isotope of nitrogen increases in abandoned livestock enclosures. Application of the methodology to archaeological pastoral sites (e.g., at the Elmenteitan Neolithic site) showed that these types of sites have a high presence of nitrogen. Studies such as this one are key in the investigation of degraded dung deposits, with key conclusions that there is a variance in nitrogen and carbon isotope values for cattle enclosures, small stock enclosures, household areas, midden deposits, and local soils within which these activity areas are found.

Community Archaeology

This aspect of archaeology was topical in Africa and elsewhere, so much so that it characterizes the 21st-century archaeological discourse. Laura-Jane Smith in the Uses of Heritage (2006) contextualizes the subdiscipline, and shows how it allows the community to meaningfully engage with the past and the present. She advanced more thoughts on these ideas again at later stages (see L. Smith 2012). While ethnoarchaeological studies assisted in understanding the meaning behind material culture through the present, community archaeology allowed the past to be accessed by more than just archaeologists, and its value is determined by more than just archaeologists. As early as 2001, Ndoro conducted a study to investigate the values communities in Zimbabwe attached to heritage, something that was critical for this region (as sites like Great Zimbabwe showed long-lasting cultural traditions that are still in place today). Schmidt and Pikirayi (2016) is dedicated to community archaeology and heritage in Africa, showing that the past is an inheritance of contemporary societies, nonprofessional as they may be, and that they have the right to place value on it. It is worth noting that this aspect of archaeology shows the past will be forever contested.

Concluding Remarks

Africa has a rich past, the investigation of which has seen a growing number of African archaeologists involved in dialogues about this past. They were involved as single authors, coauthors, editors, and coeditors of books and journals. The role of women in past societal activities, and the voice of women archaeologists in shaping archaeological thought and practice has continued to receive attention. Considering the wealth of knowledge created, Africa is now in a position to compete with other parts of the world, with key contributions in the field of human evolution. Africa had a past, a present, and its future could be talked about, as shown by increased publications. The impact of colonialism on Africa’s past did not go unnoticed, and as such a call was made for African archaeological scholars and those interested in African archaeology to decolonize the discipline—including the thought processes, practice, and methodologies that could investigate the complex African past. There is still room for more work on understanding issues of complexity, and synergies drawn between seemingly optional entities to understand past socioeconomic and political aspects of past African societies. East Africa becomes exemplary in the need for robust research on the impact of herding practices on the African savanna, so that more methods can be applied to investigating pastoralism—this demonstrates the need for more ecologically orientated ethnoarchaeological studies.

Further Reading

  • Badenhorst, Shaw. 2010. “Descent of Iron Age farmers in southern Africa during the last 2000 years.” African Archaeological Review 27 (2): 87–106.
  • Catley, Andy, Jeremy Lind, and Ian Scoones, eds. 2013. Pastoralism and development in Africa: Dynamic change at the margins. London: Routledge.
  • Chirikure, Shadreck. 2007. “Metals in society: Iron production and its position in Iron Age communities of southern Africa.” Journal of Social Archaeology, 7 (1): 72–100.
  • Hall, Martin. 2015. Archaeology and the Modern World: Colonial Transcripts in South Africa and Chesapeake. London: Routledge.
  • Hodgson, Dorothy Louise. 2000. Rethinking pastoralism in Africa. Oxford: James Currey Ltd.
  • Isaac, Glynn. 1971. “The diet of early man: Aspects of archaeological evidence from Lower and Middle Pleistocene sites in Africa.” World Archaeology 2 (3): 278–299.
  • Ishida, Hidemi, Russell Tuttle, Martin Pickford, Naomichi Ogihara, and Masato Nakatsukasa, eds. 2006. Human Origins and Environmental Backgrounds. New York: Springer Science & Business Media.
  • Maddison, David R. 1991. “African Origin of Human Mitochondrial DNA Reexamined.” Systematic Zoology 40 (3): 355–363.
  • Marshall, Fiona, and Elisabeth Hildebrand. 2002. “Cattle Before Crops: The Beginnings of Food Production in Africa.” Journal of World prehistory 16 (2): 99–143.
  • Niang, Khady, James Blinkhorn, and Matar Ndiaye. 2018. “The Oldest Stone Age Occupation of Coastal West Africa and Its Implications for Modern Human Dispersals: New Insight from Tiémassas.” Quaternary Science Reviews 188: 167–173.
  • Sealy, Judith, Navashni Naidoo, Vincent J. Hare, Simone Brunton, and J. Tyler Faith. 2020. “Climate and Ecology of the Palaeo-Agulhas Plain from Stable Carbon and Oxygen Isotopes in Bovid Tooth Enamel from Nelson Bay Cave, South Africa.” Quaternary Science Reviews 235: 1–14.
  • Thompson, Alexandra H., Michael P. Richards, Andrew Shortland, and Sonia R. Zakrzewski. 2005. “Isotopic Palaeodiet Studies of Ancient Egyptian Fauna and Humans.” Journal of Archaeological Science 32 (3): 451–463.
  • van der Veen, Marijke, ed. 1999. The Exploitation of Plant Resources in Ancient Africa. Boston, MA: Springer Science & Business Media.


  • Andah, Bassey W. 1993. “Identifying Early Farming Traditions of West Africa.” In The Archaeology of Africa: Food, Metals, and Towns, edited by Thurstan Shaw, Paul Sinclair, Bassey Andah, and Alex Okpoko, 240–254. London: Routledge.
  • Atalay, Sonya. 2006. “Indigenous Archaeology as Decolonizing Practice.” American Indian Quarterly 30 (3/4): 280–310.
  • Barich, Barbara E., Joanna Casey, John Parkington, Lyn Wadley, Diane Gifford-Gonzalez, Paul J. Lane, Rachel MacLean, Peter R. Schmidt, Ann. B. Stahl, Alinah Segobye, and Maria, Das Dores Cruz. 1998. Gender in African Prehistory. Lanham, MD: Rowman Altamira.
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  • Beaudry, Mary C., Lauren J. Cook, and Stephen A. Mrozowski. 1996. “Artifacts and Active Voices: Material Culture as Social Discourse.” In Images of the Recent Past: Readings in Historical Archaeology, edited by Charles E. Orser Jr., 272–310. Walnut Creek, CA: Alta Mira Press.
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  • Binford, Lewis Roberts. 1962. “Archaeology as Anthropology.” American Antiquity 28 (2): 217–225.
  • Binford, Sally R., and Binford, Lewis Roberts. 1968. Archaeology in Cultural Systems. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company.
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  • Binford, Lewis Roberts. 1982. “The Archaeology of Place.” Journal of anthropological archaeology 1 (1): 5–31.
  • Bisson, Michael S., Terry S. Childs, Philip de Barros, Augustin F. C. Holl, and Joseph Vogel. 2000. Ancient African Metallurgy: The Sociocultural Context. Walnut Creek, CA: Alta Mira Press.
  • Blench, Roger, and Kevin MacDonald, eds. 2006. The Origins and Development of African Livestock: Archaeology, Genetics, Linguistics and Ethnography. London: Routledge.
  • Bollig, Michael, and Jan-Bart Gewald. 2000. People, Cattle and Land-Transformations of Pastoral Society: An Introduction. Köln, Germany: Köppe.
  • Brandt, Steven A. 1996. “The Ethnoarchaeology of Flaked Stone Tool Use in Southern Ethiopia.” In Aspects of African Archaeology, edited by Gilbert Pwiti and R. Soper, 733–788. Harare: University of Zimbabwe Press.
  • Cameron, Catherine Mary, and Steve Anderson Tomka. 1993. Abandonment of Settlement Sand Regions: Ethnoarchaeological and Archaelogical Approcaches. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Chami, Felix, Gilbert Pwiti, and Marie de Chantal Radimilahy, eds. 2001. People, Contacts and the Environment in the African Past, Vol. 1. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: Dar es Salaam University Press.
  • Chirikure, Shadreck. 2007. “Metals in Society: Iron Production and Its Position in Iron Age Communities of Southern Africa.” Journal of Social Archaeology 7 (1): 72–100.
  • Chirikure, Shadreck. 2015. Metals in Past Societies: A Global Perspective on Indigenous African Metallurgy. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.
  • Claassen, Cheryl, ed. 1994. Women in Archaeology. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Clark, J. Desmond. 1959. The Prehistory of Southern Africa. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
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