Back to the grindstone? Food processing in Marakwet Kenya

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A new article by Anna Shoemaker, Matthew Davies and Henrietta Moore published in the Journal African Archaeological Review explores the history of food processing (and other substances) in Marakwet through various forms of grinding and pounding. The article traces the history of various food processing practices and particularly changes that occurred with the introduction of different varieties of maize and the introduction of diesel powered flour mills. The article also considers changing communities of practices from more communal forms of crop plant processing to more individualistic/household processes and also differences within the Kerio Valley between the Marakwet and the Pokot. The article also usefully inventories the different substances, especially food plants processed using grinding stones in Marakwet. The full article can be accessed here.  


Preliminary study of Marakwet soils and geomorphology

In late 2013 Professor Charly French was able to collect samples and make preliminary observations on the geomorphology and soils of the Tot-Sibou region in northern Marakwet as part of the African Farming Network. These preliminary oberservations were presented on this website in a post back in 2014 – click here for further details.

Since 2013 Professor French has been able to pocess the collected samples and has produced and updated research report which can be downloaded here.

Many thanks to Charly for all his hard work!

French Geoarchaeology of Marakwet 2013 preliminary report update

Possibilities for studying Marakwet material culture

Freda Nkirote M’Mbogori (National Museums of Kenya)

Material culture images

Unlike many Kenyan Communities, the Marakwet have maintained aspects of their traditional way of life.  This may be partly attributable to politics and bad road networks which have played a role in buffering the community from external influence.  Moreover, the hilly and rocky terrain, coupled with low rainfall regimes have contributed to protection of the Marakwet land from other Kenyan farming communities. While far from isolated the Marakwet have maintained a partially indigenous way of life.


Geoarchaeological assessment of the area around Tot, Marakwet

by Charles French (University of Cambridge)

images of the Marakwet environment


The Marakwet field workshop in December 2013 enabled a geoarchaeological assessment of the landscape character of this region and some initial soil sampling. Particular attention was paid to three areas: first the farm compounds, fields and slope off-take irrigation system occupying the lower slopes to the northwest of the village of Tot; second the River Embobut valley at the base of the slope over a distance of about 4km eastwards; and third the wider valley floor to the southeast-east of Tot and the main River Kerio floodplain and low terrace area towards Pokot where the Canadian Red Cross has extensively cleared land for a new irrigation system and multiple field plots over an area of some 250 hectares.

A more detailed report of these observations and the soil profiles described has been placed on file and will be incorporated into future research. The following provides a brief summary of the observations so far:



Welcome to this new site on Marakwet heritage which has developed out of a range of previous research conducted by Professor Henrietta Moore and Dr Matthew Davies. This site is currently under construction but we look forward to developing and adding to the site over the coming months.

For further information on current projects please see:

You can also find more information via the personal websites of Henrietta Moore and Matthew Davies