DETECTION OF ANTHROPOGENIC ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS IN HOLOCENE EAST AFRICA: MICROBOTANICAL AND FUNGAL PROXY EVIDENCE
Szymanski, Ryan Matthew
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation examines landscape disturbance and modification related to food production in East Africa. Pollen, fungal spore, microcharcoal, and phytolith records are employed here to reconstruct histories of landscape change at two localities in present-day Kenya. Chronologies of anthropogenic landscape use and resource exploitation are established for the mid-Holocene coastal area of Mtwapa Creek, and the late-Holocene highland locality of Kingwal Swamp. It is determined that patterns of human land usage during the fifth and sixth millennia before present broadly conformed to patterns seen in the low hinterland plains immediately inland, where riverine valleys were exploited intensively. Further, these adaptations may have included heightened use of cultivated, if not domesticated, grains such as sorghum (Sorghum bicolor). At Kingwal Swamp, transitions from transhumant herding to resident pastoralism, and finally to grain cultivation are documented. Additionally, it is found that significant refinements to established archaeological and historical population chronologies may be needed. These area studies illustrate the utility of multi-proxy microbotanical and fungal analyses as a means to test archaeological hypotheses and approach problems of equifinality therein.