14.10.2019 - 06:12
A  A

Department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture

Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig

phone: +49 (341) 3550 - 315
fax: +49 (341) 3550 - 333

e-mail: cissewski@eva.mpg.de

Hadza Foragers - Northern Tanzania

© for all images: Brian Wood


  • Senior scientist: Brian Wood  
  • Team members: Herman Pontzer, David Raichlen, Jake Harris, Claire Spottiswoode, Audax Mabulla, Katie Sayre, Christian Kiffner, Renée Hagen

Site Details

The Hadza are a culturally, linguistically, and genetically distinct population of approximately 1000-1200 individuals, living around Lake Eyasi, in northern Tanzania. Culturally, they are distinguished by being the only population in east Africa that continues to rely extensively on hunting and gathering for their subsistence. Linguistically, they speak Hadzane, a click-language that has phonetic similarities to Khoisan click-languages but is not mutually intelligible with any.

The Hadza live in a woodland habitat dominated by Acacia, Commiphora, and Adansonia digitata (Baobab) trees. The woodlands of Hadza country are typically hilly and rocky. Natural springs and seasonal rivers intersperse their range. On the edges of Lake Eyasi and the Yaeda Valley, rocky hills give way to sandy alluvial plains. The area can be quite hot, dry, and windy during the dry season (June-Oct) but is lush and green during the rainy periods.

The Hadza's subsistence economy is closely coupled to the woodland-savannah ecology in which they live, while also being guided by distinctive cultural ethos. Being mobile is an essential part of Hadza culture. The composition of Hadza residential groups, or camps, is often in flux, as people move through the landscape to visit friends and family, find better foraging opportunities, or peacefully diffuse social tensions. Sharing, minimal status distinctions, and the freedom to the move are unmistakable features of Hadza culture.


Our research focuses on the behavioural ecology of food production and food sharing systems, demography, movement ecology, and evolutionary approaches to health, informed by measures of Hadza physical activity, sleep, energy use, and relevant biomarker data.

Selected Recent Publications

Wood, B., and Gilby, I. (2017) "Pan the hunter: Hunting by humans, chimpanzees, and our common ancestor" in Chimpanzees and Human Evolution, R. Wrangham, D. Pilbeam, and M. Muller, Eds., Harvard University Press.

Wood, B., Watts, D., Mitani, J., Langergraber, K., (2017) “Favorable ecological circumstances promote life expectancy in chimpanzees similar to that of human hunter-gatherers”. Journal of Human Evolution, 105:41-56.

Raichlen, D., Pontzer, H., Harris, J., Mabulla, A., Marlowe, F., Snodgrass, J., Berbesque, C., Sancilio, A., and Wood, B. (2016) "Physical activity patterns and biomarkers of cardiovascular disease risk in hunter-gatherers". American Journal of Human Biology, 29:e22919.

Yetesh, G., Kaplan, H., Gurven, M., Wood, B., Pontzer, H., Manger, P., Wilson, C., McGregor, R., Siegel, J. (2015) "Natural Sleep and Its Seasonal Variations in Three Pre-Industrial Populations" Current Biology 25 (21) 2862-2868.

Wood, B., and Marlowe, F. (2014) "Toward a reality-based understanding of Hadza men's work: A response to Hawkes et al. (2014)" Human Nature 25(4) 620-630.

Wood, B., Pontzer, H., Raichlen, D, and Marlowe, F. (2014) “Mutualism and manipulation in Hadza-Honeyguide interactions” Evolution and Human Behavior (2014) 35(6) 540-546.

Hill, K., Wood, B., Baggio, J., Hurtado, A.M., Boyd, R. (2014) “Hunter-gatherer inter-band interaction rates: Implications for cumulative culture” PLoS ONE 9(7): e102806.

Raichlen, D., Wood, B., Gordon, A., Mabulla, A., Marlowe, F., Pontzer, H. (2013) “Evidence of Lévy walk foraging patterns in human hunter–gatherers” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 111(2) 728-733.

Wood, B., and Marlowe, F. (2013) “Household and kin provisioning by Hadza men”, Human Nature 24: 280-317.

Pontzer, H., Raichlen, D., Wood, B., Mabulla, A., Racette, S., & Marlowe, F. (2012) “Hunter-gatherer energetics and human obesity”. PLoS ONE, 7(7), e40503.

Cashdan, E., Marlowe, F., Crittenden, A., Porter, C., Wood, B. (2012) “Sex differences in spatial cognition among Hadza foragers” Evolution and Human Behavior 33:274-284.