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date: 22 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Freshwater fish are often identified as a major resource for past hunter-gatherers, and their exploitation has been implicated in both the emergence of the capacity for modern behaviour and the evolution of sociopolitical complexity. Archaeological attention has mostly been directed at higher latitude groups, but southern Africa is one of several middle and lower latitude regions in which freshwater fish were also procured, sometimes on a large scale. This chapter considers their exploitation in Africa south of the Zambezi over the longue durée of the past 70,000 years, discusses the ways in which they were captured, and evaluates claims that they helped sustain higher population densities, reduced mobility, seasonal aggregation, and the development of more ‘delayed return’ economies during the late Holocene.

Keywords: fishing, diet, freshwater, Zambezi, freshwater fish, southern Africa

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