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Subsistence practices are influenced by the types of foodstuffs available and the cultural practices of a population. The environment plays a major role in restricting/influencing the types of subsistence that can be practiced in a given area.

In Africa, pastoralism is an adaptation to a grassland environment where large herd animals can be supported, but where agriculture is difficult due to inadequate or unpredictable rainfall. One of the environmental variables limiting the distribution of pastoralism today is the presence of tsetse flies. Tsetse flies live in the moist savannas, woodlands and forest zones in Africa today. They are hosts to the parasite that causes sleeping sickness in humans, and also infects livestock

At a very general level, pastoralism implies the reliance on domesticated livestock. In Africa, major examples of domestic livestock is usually limited to cattle, goats, sheep, and camels. To a lesser degree, other African domesticates Guinea-fowl, domestic fowl, domestic cat, domestic dog, pig, donkeys, and horses.

While livestock is a common denominator among African pastoralists, the variety of forms pastoralism takes is incredible. Some pastoralists rely on cattle for a major source of calories in their diet, while others view cattle as a source of wealth and prestige.

What kind of evidence can help archaeologists find out if a given prehistoric population were pastoralists? For the most part, the evidence is usually broken into two very broad categories: faunal remains and settlement structure.

Some say that agriculture developed as a way to deal with environmental risks, explore this model. [more]
Others say that agriculture developed because people began to exploit their local ecology more and more over time. [more]
Find out what archaeologist look for when trying to pinpoint agriculture in the archaeological record. [more]

The Predynastic cemetery HK 43 at Hierakonpolis (Upper Egypt), which dates to 3600 BC, has the earliest recorded examples of hair extensions and hair die in the entire world.

Explore Lithic technology from an archaeologist's perspective. [more]
Explore Ceramics from the perspective of an archaeologist as well as a potter. [more]
Explore agriculture in the archaeological record. [more]
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