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The United Republic of Tanzania


The United Republic of Tanzania


Mumba Rockshelter

Mumba is an extensive rock shelter under an immense outcrop of metamorphic gneiss located at 35°17’47″E, 3°32’26″S near the Northeastern shore of Lake Eyasi. The rock shelter contains one of the most important and complete archaeological sequences, pivotal in the study of Late Pleistocene archaeology of East Africa. 


The finds from the shelter show a clear transition between the middle Stone Age and the Later Stone Age. A nearly 11-meter (36 feet) thick section of sediment in the shelter floor records hominid and human occupation that dates back at least 130,000 years before the present.

Researches at Mumba have recovered remains of archaic and anatomically modern humans, a wealth of data regarding paleoenvironments and fauna, which are central for understanding transitions from the Middle to Later Stone Age as well as the study of the processes involved in the development of technological modernity. 

Several prehistoric industries have been established at Mumba from bottom to top: Sanzako industry (MSA; 131-73 kya), Kisele industry (MSA/LSA; Transitional 63-56kya), Mumba industry (early LSA; 56-49 kya), Nasera industry (LSA; 36-15kya), Holocene and ceramic LSA industries (12-3kya). The Mumba sequence also contains Pastoral Neolithic (PN) and Iron Age deposits, which are foundational for understanding transitions to food production in East Africa.

Currently, the rock shelter is 2-4 km from the shore of Lake Eyasi, depending upon the lake level.  However, the sediments in the shelter floor indicate that the shoreline was much closer in ancient times and that the shelter may also have been close to one or more freshwater streams.

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