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The Pastoral Neolithic refers to a period in Africa's prehistory marking the beginning of food production on the continent following the Later Stone Age. In contrast to the Neolithic in other parts of the world, which saw the development of farming societies, the first form of African food production was mobile pastoralism,[1][2] or ways of life centered on the herding and management of livestock.

The term "Pastoral Neolithic" is used most often by archaeologists to describe early pastoralist periods in the Sahara,[3] as well as in eastern Africa.[4] In the Sahara, hunter/gatherers first adopted livestock (cattle, sheep, and goats) in the eighth to seventh millennia BP.[5] As the grasslands of the Sahara began drying out in the mid-Holocene, herders then spread into the Nile Valley and eastern Africa.

During the Pastoral Neolithic in eastern Africa (4500-1200 BP), archaeologists have identified two pastoralist groups who co-existed alongside Eburran phase 5 hunter/gatherers; these groups are known as the Savanna Pastoral Neolithic and the Elmenteitan. The Pastoral Neolithic in eastern Africa was followed by the Pastoral Iron Age approximately two thousand years ago, during which agriculture, iron technology, and Bantu languages spread into the region.[6]


  1. ^ Marshall, Fiona; Hildebrand, Elisabeth (2002-06-01). "Cattle Before Crops: The Beginnings of Food Production in Africa". Journal of World Prehistory. 16 (2): 99–143. doi:10.1023/A:1019954903395. ISSN 0892-7537.
  2. ^ Garcea, Elena A. A. (2004-06-01). "An Alternative Way Towards Food Production: The Perspective from the Libyan Sahara". Journal of World Prehistory. 18 (2): 107–154. doi:10.1007/s10963-004-2878-6. ISSN 0892-7537.
  3. ^ Gallinaro, Marina; Lernia, Savino di (2018-01-25). "Trapping or tethering stones (TS): A multifunctional device in the Pastoral Neolithic of the Sahara". PLOS ONE. 13 (1): e0191765. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0191765. PMC 5784975. PMID 29370242.
  4. ^ Bower, John (1991-03-01). "The Pastoral Neolithic of East Africa". Journal of World Prehistory. 5 (1): 49–82. doi:10.1007/BF00974732. ISSN 0892-7537.
  5. ^ Gifford-Gonzalez, Diane. (2017) "Pastoralism in sub-Saharan Africa." In The Oxford Handbook of Zooarchaeology, pp. 396-413.
  6. ^ Crowther, Alison; Prendergast, Mary E.; Fuller, Dorian Q.; Boivin, Nicole (2017-03-01). "Subsistence mosaics, forager-farmer interactions, and the transition to food production in eastern Africa". Quaternary International. 489: 101–120. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2017.01.014. ISSN 1040-6182.