Poison arrows and bone utensils in late Pleistocene eastern Africa: evidence from Kuumbi Cave, Zanzibar

Langley, Michelle C., Prendergast, Mary E., Shipton, Ceri, Morales, Erendira M. Quintana, Crowther, Alison and Boivin, Nicole (2016) Poison arrows and bone utensils in late Pleistocene eastern Africa: evidence from Kuumbi Cave, Zanzibar. Azania, 51 2: 155-177. doi:10.1080/0067270X.2016.1173302


Author Langley, Michelle C.
Prendergast, Mary E.
Shipton, Ceri
Morales, Erendira M. Quintana
Crowther, Alison
Boivin, Nicole
Title Poison arrows and bone utensils in late Pleistocene eastern Africa: evidence from Kuumbi Cave, Zanzibar
Journal name Azania   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1945-5534
0067-270X
Publication date 2016-04-02
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/0067270X.2016.1173302
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 51
Issue 2
Start page 155
End page 177
Total pages 23
Place of publication Abingdon, Oxfordshire United Kingdom
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Collection year 2017
Language eng
Abstract Most of our current knowledge of late Pleistocene African bone technology is drawn from southern African sites, with recent discoveries indicating that bone- and stone-tipped arrows (propelled by a bow) were in use prior to 60,000 years BP. Integration of archaeological with ethnographic data similarly suggests that hunting with poison-tipped arrows on the African continent has an antiquity of at least 24,000 years. Unfortunately, similar analysis of material from eastern Africa is largely absent and consequently, with the sole exception of barbed points, we know very little regarding osseous technology in this region and how similar or dissimilar it is to contexts located further south. This paper presents a small assemblage of seven bone artefacts recovered from the late Pleistocene deposits of Kuumbi Cave, Zanzibar. Comparison of the bone projectile points, a bone awl and a notched bone tube with ethnographic and archaeological material from throughout the Sub-Saharan region suggests that, as elsewhere in Africa, bone technology was a central element in the Later Stone Age material culture repertoire of Kuumbi Cave’s inhabitants. It also suggests that arrow points coated with poison were in use in eastern Africa around 13,000 years BP.
Keyword Zanzibar
Osseous technology
Eastern Africa
Awl
Bone tube
Poison arrow
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
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