From Bayira, the Earliest African Genome, to a Place of Refuge: Mota Cave’s History in Southwestern Ethiopia
Mota Cave located in southwest Ethiopia was found in 2011 in collaboration with local Gamo elders and partially excavated in 2012. The cave has exposed a long sequence of occupation (5295 Cal BP to 305 BP) revealing remarkable technological, subsistence, and cultural changes. We uncovered a burial of a male with the earliest complete ancient genome recovered from the African continent. We have named him Bayira, meaning "first born" in the Gamo language where the cave is located. Bayira begins to tell a story of how people were utilizing the Gamo highlands 4500 years ago. In addition to Bayira, Mota Cave contains a diverse lithic assemblage, as well as the onset of pottery. The cave has revealed evidence for the beginning of food production in the region. Fauna and flora remains suggest that agropastoralism began over the last two millennia. The excavations suggest that Mota Cave was utilized for a variety of purposes from a mortuary site to a living site to a place to seek refuge in times of conflict. The southwest Ethiopian highlands provides a unique perspective on the ending of the African Humid Period and its aftermath providing us with exciting insights on Eastern Africa’s past.
Cite this Record
From Bayira, the Earliest African Genome, to a Place of Refuge: Mota Cave’s History in Southwestern Ethiopia. John Arthur, Matthew Curtis, Kathryn Arthur, Jay Stock. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444684)
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min long: 32.432; min lat: -5.003 ; max long: 54.053; max lat: 18.062 ;
Abstract Id(s): 20527