Human-environment interactions of the Palabek Cultural Landscapes in the last 2000 years
Okeny, Charles Kinyera
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The general perception of pioneering archaeological researchers in Uganda was that northern Uganda and Palabek, in particular, was dry and sparsely populated land, not conducive to human habitation, and hence no archaeological record to investigate. With such perceptions in mind, the ethnographical study was deemed viable other than archaeology. Undoubtedly, historical evidence to present-day northern Uganda indicates that Palabek cultural landscapes have supported the human population in the precolonial period. The current study, therefore, explored the relationship between humans and their environment as represented by material remains on the Palabek cultural landscapes in the last 2000 years. The study offered an alternative explanation of how the human population have interacted with their environment to adapt, modify or change the environment for their good. It had three specific objectives, namely; to document and characterise the archaeological records of Palabek, to date the Palabek cultural landscapes and to examine how humans interacted with their environment on the Palabek cultural landscapes in the last 2000 years. Using oral interviews, focus group discussions (FGDs), archival records, archaeological surveys, and targeted excavations, numerous archaeological sites, cultural features, and artefactual remains were recorded. Analyses of the recorded sites and artefacts, supported by two radiocarbon dates, revealed that Palabek cultural landscapes have has been continuously settled and resettled from the stone age period through the iron age up to the present. The findings are supported by evidence from Later Stone Age (LSA) lithics, Kansyore, Urewe, bourdine, Entebbe ware, and roulette decorated pottery, as well as stonewall structures. The study findings demystify the theory that the environment was the sole determinant of human actions as implied by the view that Northern Uganda was dry and unconducive for human habitation. The alternative explanation offered is that humans as well have had the capacity to influence the environment to a certain degree.