Steven T Goldstein, PhD

African pastoralism

African Pastoralism


The development of food production was one of the most transformative processes in the human past, precipitating changes in technologies and social organization throughout the world.

In Africa, the trajectory toward cattle based herding occurred long before the adoption of plant agriculture, and involved an increase in mobility. As early African herders spread throughout Eastern Africa between 5000 and 1200 years ago, they adopted new economic strategies in the face of climate change and environmental challenges, but also had to develop new social mechanisms for managing relationships in culturally complex landscapes. The archaeological record reflects this story, revealing a diverse mosaic of lifeways during this time period. My research goals are to understand the social institutions and economic strategies that emerged to make pastoralism a viable and persistent strategy in arid and unpredictable environments.