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The tip of the horn: extractive foraging strategies and stone tool technologies in northwestern Ethiopia during the Middle Stone Age

Author(s): John Kappelman ; Lawrence Todd ; Neil Tabor ; Mulugeta Feseha ; Marvin Kay

Year: 2016

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Summary

We present data from open-air MSA sites situated along the trunk tributaries of the Blue Nile River in the lowlands of NW Ethiopia that provide information about the behaviors of anatomically modern Homo sapiens in the Horn near the time of its movement out of Africa. The diverse fauna includes mammals, reptiles, birds, and fish from a wide range of body sizes. Stone raw materials include cryptocrystalline quartz and basalt cobbles, both found on the local gravel bars and in exposed basalt flows. Bifacial and Levallois core reduction were used to produce flakes and points, prismatic blades, and extractive tools were recycled. Together these data suggest that MSA humans were adapted to a riverine-based foraging lifestyle that exploited abundant food resources seasonally concentrated around isolated waterholes and used raw materials found on river point bars exposed during the dry season. Once local foods were depleted, longer distance foraging along the channel to new waterholes functioned as a dry season “pump” to siphon MSA populations up and down along the river systems. These “blue highways” provided highly predictable food, raw materials, and water during an otherwise challenging dry season; movements from one waterhole to another would have effected population movements northward.


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Cite this Record

The tip of the horn: extractive foraging strategies and stone tool technologies in northwestern Ethiopia during the Middle Stone Age. John Kappelman, Lawrence Todd, Neil Tabor, Mulugeta Feseha, Marvin Kay. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404098)


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