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Before Farming in Northwestern Zimbabwe

Paleoenvironmental and Archeological Changes in the Late Holocene

Hoofprint engravings on rockshelter wall String of ostrich eggshell beads A python in a tree Sediment Profile at Sikumi Teresa Wriston recording an excavation unit in Impala Rockshelter

Photos above, from top to bottom: Spoor engravings in Ngabaa Rockshelter, OES beads from Bumbuzi Cave National Monument, a python in a mopane tree, the upper profile of a test excavation in the Dete vlei, and Teresa Wriston recording an excavation unit in Impala Rockshelter.

  • Funded by the US National Science Foundation (Grant BCS-0741877) and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (Grant No. 7789)
  • A cooperative research project of the University of Nevada, Reno, the Zimbabwe National Museums and Monuments, and the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.

Controlled excavations in rockshelters along Bumbusi ridge in Hwange National Park have recovered abundant materials from Later Stone Age occupations dating to the late Holocene. Tens of thousands of lithics have been found in stratified sediments. Also found were ostrich eggshell beads in all stages of manufacture, plentiful animal bones and other organics such as nutshells and seeds, and charcoal and ash features. Late Iron Age ceramics are also present but generally limited to near-surface contexts.

Ongoing analysis of the excavated material, coupled with paleoenvironmental studies currently underway, will add to our understanding of LSA lifeways immediately before the appearance of the earliest farming communities in the region. The goal is to understand how and when the transition from hunting-gathering to agropastoralism occurred just south of the Zambezi River.

Another objective of the research is the complete recording of the hundreds of unique prehistoric engravings, drawings, and paintings in the rockshelters. Download an article about Bumbusi Rock Art in Zimbabwe that was published in 2011 in the journal Zimbabwean Prehistory.

Zimbabwe in Africa

Downloadable Data

Microliths from a Bumbuzi cave A black line drawing from Ngabaa Rockshelter

Photo above: Microliths from Bumbuzi Cave.

Photo to the right: Black-line drawing from Ngabaa Rockshelter;

The images on this page are copyrighted by G. Haynes. The downloadable data are free to use, but please acknowledge this Web page as the source.

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