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  The influence of ancient herders on soil development at Luxmanda, Mbulu Plateau, Tanzania

Storozum, M. J., Goldstein, S. T., Contreras, D. A., Gidna, A. O., Mabulla, A. Z., Grillo, K. M., et al. (2021). The influence of ancient herders on soil development at Luxmanda, Mbulu Plateau, Tanzania. Catena, 204: 105376. doi:10.1016/j.catena.2021.105376.

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Storozum, Michael J., Author
Goldstein, Steven T.1, Author              
Contreras, Daniel A., Author
Gidna, Agness O., Author
Mabulla, Audax Z.P., Author
Grillo, Katherine M., Author
Prendergast, Mary E., Author
1Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society, ou_2074312              


Free keywords: Pastoralism, Archaeology, Geoarchaeology, Anthrosols, Holocene, East Africa
 Abstract: In eastern Africa, ecologists have found that when mobile pastoralists abandon their temporary encampments, the accumulation of burned animal dung, wood, and other organic waste enriches the concentration of nutrients (e.g., calcium, phosphorous, magnesium) essential to soil health, in comparison to other soils without prior human habitation. These nutrient-enriched soils promote glade development and greater biodiversity. Geoarchaeological research on the time depth of this anthropogenic “nutrient hotspot” phenomenon has demonstrated that soils at several archaeological sites in southern Kenya still remain enriched in these soil macro- and micro- nutrients after several thousand years. However, soil scientists and geoarchaeologists do not yet understand how these anthropogenic soils vary over the extensive geographic conditions of eastern Africa. The discovery of a Pastoral Neolithic site (ca. 3000 BP) at Luxmanda on the Mbulu Plateau, Tanzania, provides an opportunity to examine if similar patterns of nutrient enrichment can be detected in a different geological and climatic zone.In this paper, we use geochemical and sedimentary analyses to determine how archaeological soils at Luxmanda differ from adjacent off-site soils and known archaeological soils in Kenya, as well as from computationally derived soil nutrient models for eastern Africa. Our results indicate that soils derived from anthropogenic sediments and ashy dung are 4 to 16-fold more abundant in soil macro nutrients relative to off-site or modeled values. This pattern fits previous studies’ observations thatelevated macro- and micro-nutrients in soils are strongly correlated with ancient pastoralist habitation sites. We conclude that anthropogenic soils found at Pastoral Neolithic archaeological sites may be a valuable, but unappreciated, soil resource in eastern Africa.


Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2021-04-302021-09
 Publication Status: Published in print
 Pages: -
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: 1. Introduction
2. Background
2.1. Environmental context of African pastoralism
2.2. Factors of soil formation on the Mbulu Plateau
2.2.1. Climate
2.2.2. Organisms
2.2.3. Relief and parent material
2.2.4. Human influence
2.3. Soils nearby Luxmanda
3. Materials and methods
3.1. Field methods
3.2. Laboratory methods
4. Results
4.1. PU 1 (ca. 0–25 cm b.s.)
4.2. PU 2 (ca. 25–70 cm b.s.)
4.3. PU 3 (ca. 70–120 cm b.s.)
5. Discussion
5.1. The influence of the introduction of pastoralism on landscape evolution and soil formation
5.2. Modern soils and the legacy effects of ancient pastoralism
6. Conclusion
 Rev. Type: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1016/j.catena.2021.105376
Other: shh2948
 Degree: -



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Title: Catena
  Other : Catena
Source Genre: Journal
Publ. Info: Amsterdam [etc.] : Elsevier
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 204 Sequence Number: 105376 Start / End Page: - Identifier: ISSN: 0341-8162
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/954925519635