Ian Watts investigates the ecology and symbolism of the moon in African hunting strategies. He explores the evolutionary implications of the most productive form of big-game hunting practised by African hunter-gatherers in savanna and semi-arid environments: dry-season ambush hunting by remaining waterholes on moonlit night. For most species, this is the season of scarcity and poor-quality food. Both the Hadza of Tanzania and Kalahari Bushmen use poisoned arrows, but their ancestors relied on stone-tipped spears, so proximity to prey was even more important. Ian reviews the data on brain size increase, animal behavioural ecology of water hole use, ethno-historical and ethnographic data on night-stand hunting, the risks and technological requirements of the strategy, and the archaeology of waterhole sites. This form of hunting developed coevally with our speciation and played a critical role during the last stage of that process, shortly after 200,000 years ago.
Daryll Forde Seminar Room, Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton St, off Gordon Sq., London WC1H 0BW. Tube: Euston Square