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Bringing the Mountain to the Mara: The role of obsidian quarrying on Mt. Eburru in structuring early pastoralist socio-economic identities in southern Kenya.

Author(s): Steven Goldstein

Year: 2015

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Summary

Despite recent advances in characterizing the socio-economic mosaics associated with early pastoralism in East Africa, how this diversity affected social boundaries and manifested identities remain underexplored. Exclusive exploitation of a single obsidian source on the upper slopes of Mr. Eburru in the Central Rift Valley by communities associated with "Elmenteitan" material culture is a strong line of evidence for dimensions of shared identity linking some of these herding communities in southern Kenya between c.3000 and 1400 years ago. Surveys of upper Mt. Eburru have revealed only a single quarry area associated with Elementeitan material, suggesting it was a central locus for maintaining both the social and economic dimensions of a regional obsidian exchange. Data from new excavations at the Elmenteitan quarry site on Mt. Eburru (GsJj50) supports models for small groups traveling up the mountain and inhabiting short term occupations around the quarry while preparing obsidian cores for transport back to dispersed communities. This evidence of small groups at Mt. Eburru suggest that the exploitation of a geographically fixed resource nodes by otherwise mobile peoples allowed for the creation, renegotiation, and perpetuation of early herding identities.

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Bringing the Mountain to the Mara: The role of obsidian quarrying on Mt. Eburru in structuring early pastoralist socio-economic identities in southern Kenya.. Steven Goldstein. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396724)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
AFRICA


Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America