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Middle Holocene Environmental Change at Mtwapa Creek, Kenya: Distinguishing Human Activity from Regional Ecological Processes

  • Ryan M. Szymanski
Chapter

Abstract

Very little is known about human occupation of the East African Coast prior to the Swahili period. Only a handful of pre-Swahili archaeological sites from this region have been investigated in any detail. The Holocene archaeology of the coastal region requires research attention if the role of indigenous African populations in later ethnic mosaics is to be understood. Pollen, fungal spores, and charcoal remains from a sediment core derived from Mtwapa Creek are presented with the goal of better understanding mid-to-late Holocene (c. 7500–4000 cal yr BP) occupations of the coast. Evidence for increased local burning, herbivore activity, and overall landscape disturbance possibly derived from cultivation activities characterizes the period between c. 6200–4000 cal yr BP. Intensive exploitation of riverine habitats was practiced in the neighboring hinterland during this period, and it is proposed that similar adaptations may have been at play in coastal drainages at Mtwapa Creek and elsewhere contemporaneously. A variety of investigative methods are proposed that may yield additional information on human activities during this time period.

Keywords

Anthropogenic impact Coastal ecosystems Fungi Intertidal core Holocene Paleoecology Palynology Swahili 

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA

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