Small game forgotten: Late Pleistocene foraging strategies in eastern Africa, and remote capture at Panga ya Saidi, Kenya

Mary E. Prendergast, Jennifer Miller, Ogeto Mwebi, Emmanuel Ndiema, Ceri Shipton, Nicole Boivin, Michael Petraglia

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    The Late Pleistocene (∼125–12 thousand years ago) record of eastern Africa is critical for assessing the origin, evolution and history of human behavior. Faunal remains are a resource for understanding changes in paleoenvironments and the foodways of ancient people in eastern Africa, yet zooarchaeological information for this timeframe has been constrained by few and frequently biased samples, leading to interpretations that emphasize the hunting of large ungulates. New research in a mesic peri-coastal area of Kenya reveals a distinct food acquisition strategy at Panga ya Saidi, a cave that foragers intermittently occupied over the past 78,000 years. Zooarchaeological data from Panga ya Saidi, together with published ethnographic, animal behavioral, and zooarchaeological data, are used to argue that archaeologically invisible tools such as snares, traps, and/or nets were regularly used by Middle and Later Stone Age foragers to remotely capture small game in the site's forested environs, while encounter hunting was occasionally used to target larger game in nearby grasslands. The earliest circumstantial evidence for remote capture of fauna in eastern Africa raises questions about technological innovations, planning, and the people potentially involved in the food quest.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-24
    JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
    Publication statusPublished - 2023

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