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, 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, as well as in eastern Africa. In the Sahara, hunter/gatherers first adopted livestock (cattle, sheep, and goats) in the eighth to seventh millennia BP. 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.
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