PhD Dissertations: Emanuel Kessy, 2005

The Relationship Between the Later Stone Age (LSA) and Iron Age (IA) Cultures of Central Tanzania

Many archaeologists, anthropologists, linguists and historians have postulated that the spread of Iron Age (IA) Bantu cultures south of the Sahara was associated with the displacement or absorption of Later Stone Age (LSA) autochthonous populations. The IA Bantu cultures are suggested to have practiced agropastoralism and metal-working while LSA groups were hunter-gathererers. Recently however some scholars have raised questions about the general applicability of the displacement/absorption models to explain cultural developments in sub-Saharan Africa. It is on this basis that archaeological investigation was launched in the Pahi division of Kondoa district in central Tanzania where interaction between LSA and IA cultures took place.

The Pahi research had three main goals namely, to establish the Pahi LSA and IA cultural sequences, to investigate social and economic interaction between the LSA and IA and to ascertain the role of LSA people in the later development of settled societies in central Tanzania. The research involved extensive systematic land walkover and shovel test pits (STP) survey followed by intensive trench excavation of recovered sites.

The sequence of archaeological remains from the Pahi STPs survey strongly supported those of trench excavations. Results from both STPs and trench excavations indicated that lower Pahi stratigraphic sequences consisted of exclusively LSA cultural materials while upper levels consisted of both LSA and IA artifacts. The Pahi LSA cultures dated to 2500±40 BP and probably survived until 1030±40 BP when IA cultures became incorporated into the LSA. Despite the early adoption of IA (from IA agropastoralists) by the local LSA populations, lithic production continued to be practiced along with iron-working until recent times when it was abandoned. The widespread and continuous distribution of lithic and iron-working remains over the Pahi landscape and the entire upper Pahi stratigraphical sequence suggests that LSA peoples were not replaced by IA agropastoralists after the adoption of IA cultures circa 1030±40 BP. Instead, they incorporated IA cultural elements into their LSA culture. These findings call into questions earlier assumptions, generally applied to sub-Saharan Africa, that LSA peoples were replaced or absorbed by IA agropastoralists.