I first began working with the Hadza in 2004 and have spent long periods of time living with them and learning their way of life. The Hadza are one of the few remaining populations of hunter-gatherers left in the world. They live in a savannah woodland habitat in remote regions of Northern Tanzania. They number about 1,000, but only about 300 to 400 of them still forage full time. There are many great resources available (some described below) if you want to learn more about the Hadza. However, National Geographic recently published an in-depth article describing the Hadza that includes many stunning photographs.
Why study the Hadza?
The appeal of studying hunter-gatherers lies in the fact that their way of life is evolutionarily relevant. For the vast majority of time on the planet, humans have lived as hunter-gatherers. Human reliance on agriculture has occurred for less than 1 percent of the 2 million years that modern humans have been in existence. Although the Hadza reside in an area of the world that, even today, is not too dissimilar from that in which our ancestors spent the majority of their existence, it is important to remember that the Hadza represent only one of the many diverse groups of hunter-gatherers that have existed. While we should acknowledge the great diversity of foragers, it is worth noting that the Hadza are not unusual. In fact, they near the median value on a number of key traits.
For more information about the Hadza and how they compare to other foragers, see Frank Marlowe’s book The Hadza Hunter-Gatherers of Tanzania. This is a beautiful book that showcases many important aspects of Hadza life. Frank Marlowe was my Ph.D. advisor and the first person to introduce me to the Hadza.