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Welcome to African Archaeology!

The Journal of African Archaeology is an international peer-reviewed periodical appearing half-yearly since 2003. It publishes original papers addressing recent research and developments in African archaeology and related disciplines. The journal's main purpose is to provide scholars and students with a new pan-African forum for discussing relevant topics on the cultural dynamics of past African societies.

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Vol. 8 (1) 2010

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E.A. Hildebrand & S.A. Brandt

An Archaeological Survey of the Tropical Highlands of Kafa, Southwestern Ethiopia

Journal of African Archaeology, Volume 8 (1), 2010, pages 43-63, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-10152

Abstract
The cool, moist, tropical highlands of southwest Ethiopia contrast dramatically with arid environments in the rest of the Horn of Africa. They have seen little archaeological research due to their remote location, wet conditions, and acidic soils and volcanic rocks thought to harbor few shelters or open-air sites capable of organic preservation. In 2004–2005, the Kafa Archaeological Project documented 27 shelters of diverse height, configuration, and formation processes; ten merited test excavations. Three have late Holocene cultural deposits, while another has high densities of ceramics, lithics, bone, and dried plant remains extending back to the middle Holocene. These sites suggest that the tropical highlands of Kafa contain numerous previously occupied caves and rockshelters with good organic preservation. Therefore, they have the potential of 1) establishing the region's first Holocene cultural chronology that can be compared with better-studied areas of the Horn and eastern Africa; 2) contributing to a regional environmental record; and 3) reconstructing hunter-gatherer, farming and/or herding economics and social organization during a period of increasing socio-political complexity.

Résumé
Les massifs montagneux du sud-ouest de l'Ethiopie avec leur climat frais et humide contrastent fortement avec les milieux arides du reste de la corne de l'Afrique. Ils ont fait l'objet de peu de recherches archéologiques à cause de leur isolement géographique et de leurs conditions climatiques humides. On pensait également que leurs sols acides et leurs roches volcaniques n'offraient que peu de possibilité de conservation des matières organiques dans les abris-sous-roche et les sites de plein air. En 2004–2005, le projet archéologique Kafa a permis de documenter vingt-sept abris-sous-roche de hauteur, de configuration et de processus de formation variés, dont dix méritaient d'être sondés. Trois abris présentent des dépôts datant de l'Holocène récent, alors qu'un autre a montré de hautes densités de céramiques, de pièces lithiques, d'ossements et de restes de plantes momifiés qui remontent jusqu'à l'Holocène moyen. Ces sites laissent penser que les montagnes tropicales de Kafa contiennent de nombreuses grottes et abris-sous-roche précédemment occupés où les matières organiques ont pu être conservées. En outre, ils offrent la possibilité de 1) établir la première chronologie culturelle holocène de la région qui peut être comparée à des régions mieux étudiées de la corne de l'Afrique ou de l'Afrique de l'est, 2) de contribuer à l'enregistrement de l'environnement régional et 3) de reconstruire les économies des chasseurs-cueilleurs, des agriculteurs et/ou éleveurs ainsi que leur organisation sociale pendant une période de complexification socio-politique.




Keywords: Ethiopia, highlands, Holocene, holocene, Later Stone Age, LSA, rockshelters, Southwest Ethiopia


© Copyright: Africa Magna Verlag 2011
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