Dating pottery shards
Residential mobility of this frequency is much less common today, but because patterns of rainfall and the availability of pasture vary both spatially and seasonally, Samburu still move herds of cattle between highlands and lowlands (or further afield) if necessitated by dry seasons or drought.Young unmarried men ( Map of Samburu County, Kenya, with provenience of sampled sherds labelled (1) Naiborkeju Hill; (2) near Latakweny, lowlands; (3) Mbaringon Group Ranch, Lorroki Plateau; (4) Kikwal Rockshelter, Kirisia Hills; (5) Reprep Rockshelter, Kirisia Hills; (6) Lolmarguet Rockshelter, Kirisia Hills The Samburu subsistence system has historically been based on the famous triad of milk, meat and blood common to herding societies living throughout the African continent.
Spencer’s classic ethnographies of the Samburu () provided detailed descriptions of settlement patterns and grazing decisions in Samburu; at that time people in many areas were moving their houses every few weeks or months.Over the last 70 years, however, there has been a distinct shift away from a diet centred predominantly on the products of their herds, towards a diet that includes much greater reliance on foods previously associated primarily with agricultural populations (Grillo ).On some better-watered parts of the Lorroki Plateau to the southwest and in the Mbaringon highlands to the northwest, people are almost entirely sedentary and cultivate crops such as maize and beans (see Lesorogol retreat to secluded areas such as rockshelters to roast and, later, make boiled soups from slaughtered cattle.The overall conclusion is that lipid residues may not necessarily reflect, in a simple way, the day-to-day consumption or the perceived relative importance of different foodstuffs.In the Samburu case, lipid residues reflect the functional and ideological suitability of ceramics for processing only certain types of food (meat/fat/bones), despite an overall reliance on milk.
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Wild plants provide another important source of nutrition in the Samburu diet, particularly in times of drought.