Africa at Noon on March 2, 2016

“Pastoralism at Luxmanda, Tanzania: Ethnography and the Inexplicable Archaeological Record”

Kate Grillo
Assistant Professor, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Download poster (pdf)

Time and Location

12:00pm, 206 Ingra­ham Hall, 1155 Obser­va­tory Drive, Madi­son, WI


New archaeological excavations at Luxmanda, north-central Tanzania, have revealed the largest Pastoral Neolithic settlement site in eastern Africa, dating to roughly 3,000 to 2,000 years ago. Occupied by cattle, sheep/goat, and donkey herders, the site is confounding ethnoarchaeologically-derived expectations about what the archaeological record of a mobile pastoralist society “should” look like. This presentation examines the dialectic relationship between the ethnographic record and archaeological interpretation, and begins to challenge long-held assumptions about the material culture, settlement patterns, and subsistence practices of eastern Africa’s herding societies past and present.


Kate Grillo (PhD 2012, Washington University in St. Louis) studies the material culture of African pastoralism. She has conducted ethnoarchaeological research on the use of pottery by Samburu pastoralists in Kenya, and she is now directing fieldwork at Pastoral Neolithic sites in the Turkana Basin, Kenya, and the Mbulu Plateau, north-central Tanzania. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.