Skeletons reveal roots of food production in Africa


Skeletons reveal roots of food production in Africa

New study solves a mystery surrounding cultural diversity that began 5,000 years ago

Senior science reporter

For many years, a group of skeletons lay dormant at the National Museums of Kenya and Tanzania, but now, thanks to advanced technology and the inquiring minds of scientists across disciplines, they have solved a puzzle that has its roots 5,000 years ago.

The mystery was how East Africa got to be so culturally diverse, and also how the inhabitants shifted from foraging to producing their own food. Other groups must have arrived at some point, but who were they, and when did they arrive?

The skeletons were carefully curated and analysed alongside other skeletons from the Livingstone Museum in Zambia. Altogether, there were 41 of them and, when placed under the scrutiny of archaeologists, geneticists and museum curators from different countries (including African countries), they showed that thousands of years ago, herders (from two distinct groups but both from northeast Africa) arrived and starting herding. ..

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