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Lithic technology and hunting behaviour during the Middle Stone Age in Tanzania Open Access


Other title
Paleolithic archaeology
Lithic analysis
Palaeolithic archaeology
East Africa
Modern human origins
Middle Stone Age
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Bushozi, Pastory
Supervisor and department
Willoughby, Pamela (Anthropology)
Examining committee member and department
Le Blanc, Raymond (Anthropology)
Brooks, Alison (Anthropology, George Washington U)
Fletcher, Christopher (Anthropology)
Garvie-Lok, Sandra (Anthropology)
McDougall, Ann (History and Classics)
Department of Anthropology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
In this dissertation, I examine the representation of projectile points in the Middle Stone Age (MSA) and Later Stone Age (LSA) of Tanzania, and the way in which such tools were used over time and space. This study reviews the different strategies used to produce points during the MSA and LSA. It also examines the mechanisms involved in raw material procurement, hafting technology, and the use of these tools as projectile weapons and how they evolved over time. It is clear that there were different kinds of multi-weapon systems in use in Tanzania during the MSA, LSA and the transition between them. The points examined are from three archaeological sites: Mumba, Nasera and Magubike. They reveal that triangular blanks were preferred for the production of points. Most of them were modified on their proximal ends to provide a suitable binding portion for hafting and aerodynamic movement. Results from the Tip Cross Section Area (TCSA) and weight values suggest that spear and arrow projectiles coexisted in these sites during the MSA and MSA/LSA transition. Both local and exotic rocks were used for the production of points. In previous studies, the appearance of exotic rocks in the archaeological assemblages was correlated with trade and exchange. But here the use of exotics seems to be influenced by functional values such as durability, sharpness and brittleness. Sharp and durable rocks such as chert and quartzite were needed for spears because of their high compression strength. This makes them better able to withstand unintentional breakage after being stressed by the force of impact. Points made of brittle rocks, such as quartz and obsidian, were mainly used for light duty projectiles such as throwing spears (darts) and arrows, because they penetrate the body of an animal better and sometimes break more easily. The presence of points made of exotic or local rocks shows that functional variables were important for projectile technologies. The overall morphological and technological patterns revealed in this study suggest that foragers who made and used points had elaborate technological skills, abstract thinking and developed behavioural capability similar to those of other modern foragers.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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