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Title: Toward a history of the Oromo of Wallaga in southwestern Ethiopia: an ethnoarchaeological study of ceramic technological style and tuber crop domestication.
Author: Wayessa, Bula Sirika
Advisor: Lyons, Diane
Keywords: Archaeology
Issue Date: 28-Jan-2016
Abstract: The primary objective of this study is to determine a material means to investigate the little known history of Wallaga Oromo and their contribution to tuber crop domestication in southwestern Ethiopia using an ethnoarchaeological approach. This goal is addressed through a unique approach that first determined the ceramic technological style of Wallaga Oromo potters using a chaîne opératoire methodology, and then linking the chaîne opératoire with Wallaga Oromo culinary practices that are associated with tuber crops that leave residues on steaming pots. Both technological style and cuisine are considered as strong markers of specific social groups and are a strong proxy for investigating Oromo history and use of specific tuber crops. This assertion was supported by a comparative study of the culinary practices and pottery technological styles of two neighboring groups: the Yem and the Dawro. These groups have separate and distinct technological styles and culinary practices. Data were collected using ethnoarchaeological methods of interview and observation of farmers and potters in the study area. In this region, potters experience a low social status within the Oromo social stratification system. The study further demonstrates how Oromo pottery is engaged in daily and ritual practice in the region. The research represents the first comprehensive study of marginalized Oromo potters, the relationship between Oromo pottery and cultural cuisine, and how Oromo history and worldviews are expressed through material culture associated with pottery-making and its consumption. The study also investigated Oromo women’s contributions to indigenous technology and their agricultural knowledge of tuber production and consumption.
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