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The forgotten significance of the Later Stone Age sites near Hora Mountain, Mzimba District, Malawi

Author(s): Jessica Thompson ; Alan Morris ; Flora Schilt ; Andrew Zipkin ; Kendra Sirak

Year: 2017

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In 1950, J. Desmond Clark led excavations at a Later Stone Age rock shelter at Hora Mountain, a large inselberg overlooking a modern floodplain in the Mzimba District of northern Malawi. At the Hora 1 site, he recovered two human skeletons, one male and one female, along with a rich – but superficially described and undated – cultural sequence. In 2016, our renewed excavations recovered a wealth of lithic, faunal, and other materials such as mollusk shell beads and ochre. Our re-examination of the skeletons also produced the first ancient DNA from the central African region, which together with previous morphological analysis demonstrates that the LSA foragers of the area cannot be readily fit within the known genetic and phenotypic parameters of living foragers. The significance of the Hora 1 site was made further clear by the re-location of several previously-known sites also at the mountain, the discovery of four new rock art sites, and the discovery of four very rich new archaeological sites in the mountains adjacent to the floodplain. Here, we describe our renewed work and how it fits with the original findings to offer unprecedented promise for understanding the lifeways of Holocene foragers in central Africa.

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The forgotten significance of the Later Stone Age sites near Hora Mountain, Mzimba District, Malawi. Jessica Thompson, Alan Morris, Flora Schilt, Andrew Zipkin, Kendra Sirak. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430400)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15481

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