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Vogelsang, R. and Keding, B. 2013. Climate, culture, and change: from hunters to herders in northeastern and southwestern Africa. In: Baldia, M.O., Perttula, T.K. and Frink, D.S. (eds). Comparative Archaeology and Paleoclimatology: Socio-Cultural Responses to a Changing World. Oxford: Archaeopress, pp 43-62


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Climate, culture, and change: from hunters to herders in northeastern and southwestern Africa.

Summary / Notes:

We focus on the process of economic change during the Holocene in northeastern and southwestern Africa. Both areas show roughly similar economic sequences with a transition by adoption from foraging to pastoralism. However, differences in the transition are observed in the process of change. In the Sudanese Saharan region of northeastern Africa a complete change of an economic system is suggested. This contrasts with southwestern Africa, where only some elements of the pastoral lifestyle have been adopted. The background for these diverse developments will be discussed based on two case studies, each situated in areas with different climatic conditions. The first study is from the Wadi Howar region in the eastern Sahara. It is an ecologically favored area in a geographically key position, but characterized by dramatic climatic changes during the last 10,000 years. The second case study is from the Opuwo District in northwestern Namibia with a more stable climate. However, the differences of economic transition processes observed in both areas can only partly be explained by different intensities of climatic and environmental changes. In the Wadi Howar region, the transition from foragers to cattle pastoralism seems to be less stimulated by climatic change than by social, demographic, and other factors. However, a second, later change, resulting in increasing economic diversification, seems to be mainly an adaptation to growing aridity. The slower and selected adoption of a new economic system in Namibia can be partly explained by the more static conditions in southwestern Africa. In this area, stimuli like strong climatic and environmental change, as well as intense regional and inter-regional contacts with groups exhibiting different subsistence patterns and social structures, are missing, and new ideas seem to take more time to be fully adopted.

Year: 2013

Type: Book, Book Section, Booklet

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