The nature and trajectory of coastal and maritime adaptations, and the complex ways foraging economies have been structured to include both marine and terrestrial resources, are becoming key topics of interest in African archaeological research. There is, therefore, an increasing need to understand the longer-term context for more recent shifts in coastal economies, and for greater attention to be paid to the role of a broader spectrum of resources. This is particularly the case for terrestrial and marine molluscs, which have been somewhat overlooked in discussions centered on past economies in the region. The relative importance of these comparatively small-bodied faunal resources requires evaluation, particularly given their ubiquity within the archaeological record, and their potentially important contribution to dietary and economic practices. Kuumbi Cave, located in the southeast of Zanzibar (Unguja) Island, provides the ideal opportunity to investigate long-term trends in invertebrate use on the eastern African coast and islands. Here we discuss not only the trajectory of coastal resource exploitation and coastal economic adaptations in the region from the late Pleistocene, but also the significance of Kuumbi Cave as one of the few sites in eastern Africa that represents significant levels of exploitation of large terrestrial gastropods.
- coastal adaptations
- coastal economy