Title of the session


Session Organizer(s)

Michelle House,
Department of Archaeology,
The University of Cape Town,
Private Bag X3, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
Email: michelleannehouse@gmail.com

Anneke Janzen,
Department of Anthropology, 
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Email: ajanzen@utk.edu 

Delivery format


Nature of a session

Open for contributions

Session abstract

Domestic animals were critical commodities in the subsistence economy of African prehistoric farmers and herders. Successful management of livestock requires herders to mitigate risks against drought, disease outbreaks, and grazing capacity amongst other pressures. The avenues through which herders and farmers chose to adjust their management strategies in the face of such risks, as well as changes in the social and ecological landscape, are incredibly varied. Strategies may have included adjustments in herd compositions and culling patterns, shifts in livestock exchange relationships, and even greater reliance on other food sources, such as hunted wild animals. Investigating all forms of prehistoric animal exploitation can help to better understand lifeways and social interactions of past populations that kept domestic livestock, and how these populations adapted to environmental and social changes. With these topics in mind, this session invites research from all regions of Africa with a focus on domestic animal exploitation. We welcome papers using a variety of methodologies including those by anthropologists, biological scientists, and geoscientists. We envision that our discussions of the diversity of ancient livestock management may intersect with current dialogues regarding the resilience of pastoralist populations in the future. 

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