Monumental necropolis of 5,000 years ago. years discovered in Kenya
An ancient cemetery has been discovered in northern Kenya with the remains of hundreds of people. The necropolis is 5,000. years and gives researchers clues about how early pastoral societies were organized.
The earliest and largest graveyard in East Africa was stumbled upon by an international team ofół scientistsóin a complex m.in. of researchers from New York’s Stony Brook University and the im. Max Planck Institute in Germany. The results of the research led by Elizabeth Hildebrand appeared in the „Proceedings of the National Academy of Science”.
Lothagam North Pillar Site – the site of the research work carried out – was built most likely between 5,000 and 4,300. years ago by pastoralist peoples living near Lake Turkana in Kenya – believe the researchers. According to them, it was a small group of people without an elaborate social hierarchy. The construction of such a large public project by such a small community contradicts narratives about early societies.
In the changing environment of Africa, a pastoral community living around a large lake came together and created a huge public cemetery with giant columns, stone circles and mounds of. Several hundred individuals were buried thereób róThe remains of different sexes and in rós of the past century. The site buriedówku and ornaments do not suggest any social hierarchy. Objects found with the dead also indicate the absence of a strong hierarchy – ornaments are more or less the same and in similar numbers.
This old necropolis was a communal cemetery and operated for several centuriesów – archaeologists believe. In the beginning, according to experts, a circle was formed with a diameter of about 30 metersów with a hollow in the center where the dead were buried. Once there was a shortage of space, bodies were covered with stones, and huge megalithic columns were placed on top of the stones, someóre coming from as far away as a kilometer.
Until now, it was thought that such large and intricate constructions of public significance, as souvenirs of wspól history, the idealów and culture, may have erected a well-established, socially stratified society with abundant resources and strong trappingsódzwork. It was thought that political structure and resources for specialization were prerequisites for engaging in the creation of such structures. Monuments of this type were thus considered reliable indicators of complex societies with zrógnicated social classes. But finds at the Lothagam site seem to contradict this concept. The cemetery was built by shepherds, without any signs of a rigid social hierarchy.
– This discovery challenges previous ideas about monumental structures – said Elizabeth Sawchuk of Stony Brook University, wspóphoto author of the study. – In the absence of other evidenceów, the Lothagam site is an example of building such structures, whichóry is not in an obvious wayób linked to the emergence of hierarchy, forcing us to consider other narratives of social change – added.
Ornaments – pendants and earrings found in the cemetery. Photo. Katherine Grillo
Similar examples of such structures can be found elsewhere in Africa and on other continents, where monumental structures were built by groups considered egalitarian in their social organization. Hildebrand’s research may change the view of how and why large groups of people come together to form complex societies.
Researchers believe that in this case the Lothagam cemetery was built during a period of profound change. People arriving in the Lake Turkana area with sheep, goats and cattle encountered rófisher groupsów, huncóin whether collectors already living aroundó³ lake. In addition, newcomers and residents faced a difficult ecological situation, as annual precipitation decreased during this period, and Lake Turkana shrank by up to half. Early settlers were able to build a cemetery as a meeting place for people to create and maintain social networks and cope with major economic and environmental changes.
– Such constructions may have served as a place to gather, renew social ties and strengthen one’s identity. Information exchange and interaction through wspólny ritual may have pomóc mobile herding groups in moving through a rapidly changing physical landscape – Said Anneke Jansen of the im Institute. Max Planck.
After a few centuries, pastoralism became established in new areas, and the lake level stabilized. At that time, the cemetery ceased to be used. – Lothagam is the earliest known site of its kind in East Africa, built by the first pastoralists living in the region. This discovery makes us rethink how we define social complexity and types of motiveów, whichóre directing groups of people to create public architecture – admitted Hildebrand.
Sourceóbackground: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, photo. Katherine Grillo/ Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History