The Hadza: Hunter-Gatherers of Tanzania

The Hadza: Hunter-Gatherers of Tanzania

The Hadza: Hunter-Gatherers of Tanzania

The Hadza: Hunter-Gatherers of Tanzania

Synopsis

In "The Hadza," Frank Marlowe provides a quantitative ethnography of one of the last remaining societies of hunter-gatherers in the world. The Hadza, who inhabit an area of East Africa near the Serengeti and Olduvai Gorge, have long drawn the attention of anthropologists and archaeologists for maintaining a foraging lifestyle in a region that is key to understanding human origins. Marlowe ably applies his years of research with the Hadza to cover the traditional topics in ethnography subsistence, material culture, religion, and social structure. But the book's unique contribution is to introduce readers to the more contemporary field of behavioral ecology, which attempts to understand human behavior from an evolutionary perspective. To that end, "The Hadza" also articulates the necessary background for readers whose exposure to human evolutionary theory is minimal."

Excerpt

The Hadza of Tanzania are one of the very few societies anywhere in the world who still live by hunting and gathering. Hunter-gatherers are people who forage for wild foods, practicing no cultivation or animal husbandry. The fact that the Hadza are still foraging makes them invaluable to researchers interested in the lifestyle of our ancestors before agriculture so greatly altered human societies. The Hadza happen to live in East Africa, an area rich in hominin fossils (Figure 1.1). Hominins are all those species (Australopithecus afarensis, Paranthropus boisei, Homo erectus, etc.) that share with us a common ancestor that diverged from the ancestor of our closest living relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, 6–7 million years ago (mya). Today, we humans are the sole surviving hominin. Humans and their hominin ancestors have occupied East Africa for as long as they have existed. For testing evolutionary hypotheses about past ecological influences and outcomes, it would be difficult to find a living society more relevant than the Hadza. They have been studied extensively, but surprisingly no English-language anthropological book has been published until now.

I began my research with the Hadza in 1995 when I was working on my Ph.D. at UCLA. Since then, I have been back 15 times for a total of about 4 years altogether. Even so, I speak only a little bit of the Hadza

1. In 1958 Kohl-Larsen wrote a book in German, but it has not been translated.

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