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date: 10 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The history of pastoralism and stock-keeping in East Africa extends over some 4,500–5,000 years, during which time a diverse range of herd management strategies and settlement systems were followed by an equally diverse range of ethnic groups and pastoralist societies. The historical record documents several examples of mobile stock herders becoming sedentary farmers and agropastoralists, hunter-gatherers acquiring livestock and adopting a pastoralist lifestyle and the cultural traditions of their pastoralist neighbours and impoverished pastoralists becoming either temporary or longer-term foragers. This article examines the Lake Turkana region, the Central and Southern Rift Valley, and the Pastoral Iron Age. Archaeological evidence, especially if coupled with palaeoenvironmental data, and that of population genetics and historical linguistics, offers an excellent means of tracking how varied these pastoralist economies and cultures have been and when, where, and why they have changed.

Keywords: herd management, settlement systems, ethnic groups, pastoralist societies, domestic livestock, Pastoral Iron Age, archaeological evidence, Southern Rift Valley

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