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Historical archaeology of the 19th century caravan trade in north-eastern Tanzania : a zooarchaeological perspective

This zooarchaeological study examined animal economies practiced by local communities against the context of the expansion of the caravan trade in eastern Africa during the nineteenth century. Specific objectives were to establish whether: a) animal economies in areas crossed by caravan trade routes were transformed as a result of expanding trade and the demand for supplies; b) new herd management strategies were adopted by local communities to ensure production of surpluses for exchange; and c) the expansion of this trade caused subsistence stress for local communities. The study area is the Lower Pangani River Basin, north-eastern Tanzania. The three studied riparian island settlements of Ngombezi, Old Korogwe and Kwa Sigi are mentioned in the nineteenth-century European accounts as caravan halts in the Lower Pangani. These were identified through archaeological survey and oral interviews - using the nineteenth-century accounts as a guide to their likely locations. Excavation exposed evidence for human settlements dating to the late seventeenth or early eighteenth centuries AD, and materials recovered include over 30,000 pieces of animal bone, 39,000 potsherds, 4,020 local and imported beads, metal objects, worked bones, remains of flintlock muskets and coins. The analysis of the faunal remains indicates that domestic livestock, a wide range of wild animals, and locally caught fish, were all being consumed at these settlements. The proportion of wild fauna in the assemblage suggests their significant contribution to the diet. At Ngombezi where the longest dated sequence was revealed, such a consumption pattern of mixing domestic and wild resources is not significantly different from that of the pre-nineteenth-century levels, suggesting that the integration of these settlements into the caravan trade network had limited effects on food procurement strategies and consumption patterns. There is a general lack of evidence that young animals were slaughtered, which would be indicative of consumption pressure on domestic stock, as the majority of domestic stock was slaughtered after reaching maturity age - over 3 years for cattle and over 2 years for sheep and goat. These major findings contradict arguments made by historians that the caravan trade had a transformative effect on communities lying along the main trade routes in the region, though additional research at other sites is needed to strengthen this argument.
Date January 2012
CreatorsBiginagwa, Thomas John
ContributorsLane, Paul ; O'Connor, Terry
PublisherUniversity of York
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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