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Henrik Junius

Between 2005 and 2013, new archaeometallurgical finds and features in central Nigeria resulted from several excavation campaigns conducted by the Nok research project, Goethe University, Frankfurt. This article presents the first excavation results and compares the newly generated data to the publications on the Nok iron smelting site of Taruga from 40 years ago. All newly excavated sites find close resemblance in each other in regards to dates in the middle of the first millennium BCE, furnace design, find distribution and find properties. In some cases, the finds from the Taruga valley fit in the new and homogeneous picture of Nok iron metallurgy. However, Taruga differs from the new sites in its variety of furnace design and number of furnaces.

Whereas furnace bases with a width of around one meter based on slag pits partially filled with slag seem to be the rule for all newly excavated Nok furnaces, only some furnaces at Taruga exhibit these characteristics. Furnace variability at Taruga could be explained by a longer and/or subsequent site usage through time. Modern era finds like a clay smoking pipe, the higher number of furnaces per site as well as a higher dispersion of absolute dates and the variability of furnace design could support this assumption. This paper concentrates on the archaeological context of a specific type of early iron technology in central Nigeria; ongoing archaeometric analysis of all related finds will be presented elsewhere.

Tanja M. Männel and Peter Breunig

Since their discovery in the mid-20th century, the terracottas of the Nok Culture in Central Nigeria, which represent the earliest large-scale sculptural tradition in Sub-Saharan Africa, have attracted attention well beyond specialist circles. Their cultural context, however, remained virtually unknown due to the lack of scientifically recorded, meaningful find conditions. Here we will describe an archaeological feature uncovered at the almost completely excavated Nok site of Pangwari, a settlement site located in the South of Kaduna State, which provided sufficient information to conclude that the terracotta sculptures had been deliberately destroyed and then deposited, emphasising the ritual aspect of early African figurative art.

Similar observations were made at various other sites we had examined previously. But the terracottas found at Pangwari not only augmented our insights into the advanced stylistic development of the Nok sculptures, they also exhibited scenes of daily life like a relief of a dugout boat with two paddlers, or remarkable details like a marine shell on the head of a human figure – details indicating trans-regional trade and long-distance contacts. Other finds from Pangwari deepen our knowledge of therianthropic creatures among the terracottas of the Nok Culture.

Peter Breunig and Nicole Rupp

Until recently the Nigerian Nok Culture had primarily been known for its terracotta sculptures and the existence of iron metallurgy, providing some of the earliest evidence for artistic sculpting and iron working in sub-Saharan Africa. Research was resumed in 2005 to understand the Nok Culture phenomenon, employing a holistic approach in which the sculptures and iron metallurgy remain central, but which likewise covers other archaeological aspects including chronology, settlement patterns, economy, and the environment as key research themes. In the beginning of this endeavour the development of social complexity during the duration of the Nok Culture constituted a focal point. However, after nearly ten years of research and an abundance of new data the initial hypothesis can no longer be maintained. Rather than attributes of social complexity like signs of inequality, hierarchy, nucleation of settlement systems, communal and public monuments, or alternative African versions of complexity discussed in recent years, it has become apparent that the Nok Culture, no matter which concept is followed, developed complexity only in terms of ritual. Relevant information and arguments for the transition of the theoretical background are provided here.

Alexa Höhn and Katharina Neumann

Settlement activities of the Nok Culture considerably decreased around 400 BCE and ended around the beginning of the Common Era. For a better understanding of the decline of the Nok Culture, we studied the charcoal assemblage of the post-Nok site Janruwa C, dating to the first centuries CE. Janruwa C differs from Middle Nok sites in ceramic inventory and a wider set of crops. 20 charcoal types were identified. Most taxa are characteristic of humid habitats such as riverine forests, while those savanna woodland charcoal types that had been dominant in Middle Nok samples are only weakly represented. The differences between the Middle Nok and post-Nok assemblages do not indicate vegetation change, but rather different human exploitation behaviors. It seems that the Nok people avoided forest environments while in the first centuries CE, other, possibly new populations settled closer to the forest and were more familiar with its resources. The new exploiting strategies might be explained as adaptation to changing environmental conditions. Our results, together with data from other palaeo-archives in the wider region, point to climatic change as a potential factor for the decline of the Nok Culture. We argue that erosion on the hill slopes, maybe due to stronger seasonality, was responsible for land degradation after 400 BCE and that the Nok people were not flexible enough to cope with this challenge through innovations.

David K. Wright, Katherine M. Grillo and Robert Soper

A recent archival research project in the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) identified artifacts and human remains associated with the 1980 excavation of stone cairns and habitation areas on the west side of Lake Turkana. The presence of stone grave cairns across eastern Africa is common, but their cultural origins and construction times are enigmatic. This article presents the results of the archival project and contextualizes both the artifacts found and the unpublished research notes within the framework of evolving settlement patterns in eastern Africa during the middle to late Holocene. Despite the presence of numerous decorative features on ceramics and the recovery of many complete lithic tools, the material culture is generally non-diagnostic within existing typo-technological categories. The research indicates that there was tremendous diversity in the material culture of the Turkana Basin during the late Holocene.

M. Anwar Hossen and John R. Wagner

In this paper we focus on the principle of community inclusion in water and ecological resource governance and document the negative impacts of its absence, in Chapra village, Bangladesh, on sustainable development and livelihood security. This community depends heavily on common property resources such as wild plant foods, fish and ‘natural’ crop fertilizers derived from river siltation and other sources. For the vast majority of people in Chapra, these common ecological resources create the ability to effectively match livelihood strategies to the conditions of both dry and rainy seasons. However, this socioecological livelihood pattern is increasingly undermined by the hydropolitics and top–down water management practices that prevail throughout the Ganges–Brahmaputra Basin in Bangladesh. These practices lead to ecosystem failures and ecological resource degradation which in turn cause survival challenges for the marginalized people who constitute the vast majority of the population. In this paper we explicitly seek to answer the question: how might community inclusion in governance processes help protect ecological integrity and common property resources and thereby support an alternative and more sustainable form of development for the region? In order to answer this question we first document the nature of livelihood practices in Chapra, based on 1 year of fieldwork, and then outline the mismatch that now occurs between livelihood practices, ecological characteristics and governance practices. We conclude with the argument that greater community inclusion in governance must be part of the solution to existing problems and we propose specific governance reform measures to facilitate community inclusion.

A. K. M. Firoz Khan, M. G. Mustafa and M. Niamul Naser

Community-based approaches have gained significant attention in inland open water fisheries management in Bangladesh. This article focuses on the challenges and opportunities of the inland open water fishery resources under community-based management approaches. The present study employed management information of waterbodies between 1991 and 2014 across a range of geographical locations and habitats. The study reveals that coordinated management of water bodies is essential given common management issues of waterbodies. Present study also reveals that complexity of different property rights and the diversity of users within individual clusters have had cumulatively adverse effects on fisheries. The study shows that different fisheries management policies promoted by the government of Bangladesh over time to have varied in strength and appropriateness. This study concludes that open water fisheries management through fishers’ community involvement is promising approach in Bangladesh but a variety of socio-economic factors that affect the governance in its implementation.

Mohammad Abul Kawser and Md. Abdus Samad

Soon after the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, India took initiative to construct a barrage on its side of the Ganges and commissioned it in 1975. In the past few decades, many of the 54 Bangladeshi Rivers that originate in India have either been diverted or dammed upstream, inside India. All of these hydro-developmental initiatives have left a profound impact on Bangladesh as it is at the receiving end of the Himalayan fluvial regime. In particular, Bangladesh’s agriculture, fisheries, and human health and wellbeing are reported to have been significantly affected by the disruption of natural water flow in its rivers. The debate over the water sharing issues between India and Bangladesh dates back as early as their birth but the historical developments of the disputes have never been adequately addressed in settling the issues. This paper analyzes the political developments in Bangladesh and India over Farakka issue from historical perspectives. It also reveals the adverse effects of Farakka Barrage on environment in Bangladesh. The aim is to provide policy makers with the insights into historical developments of disputes centred on Farakka Barrage to contribute towards better water governance.


S.R. Goldstein-Sabbah and H.L. Murre-van den Berg