| The moon and hunting in human evolution

Ian Watts

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

This class is part of the syllabus:

Politics, human origins and indigenous worlds