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This landmark volume combines classic and revisionist essays to explore the historiography of Sardinia’s exceptional transition from an island of the Byzantine empire to the rise of its own autonomous rulers, the iudikes, by the 1000s.
In addition to Sardinia’s contacts with the Byzantines, Muslim North Africa and Spain, Lombard Italy, Genoa, Pisa, and the papacy, recent and older evidence is analysed through Latin, Greek and Arabic sources, vernacular charters and cartularies, the testimony of coinage, seals, onomastics and epigraphy as well as the Sardinia’s early medieval churches, arts, architecture and archaeology. The result is an important new critique of state formation at the margins of Byzantium, Islam, and the Latin West with the creation of lasting cultural, political and linguistic frontiers in the western Mediterranean.

Contributors are Hervin Fernández-Aceves, Luciano Gallinari, Rossana Martorelli, Attilio Mastino, Alex Metcalfe, Marco Muresu, Michele Orrù, Andrea Pala, Giulio Paulis, Giovanni Strinna, Alberto Virdis, Maurizio Virdis, and Corrado Zedda.

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to present new archaeological data coming from the recent excavations in Adulis (Eritrea) in the so-called “Church of the British Museum”, discovered in 1868 by Captain Goodfellow. New excavations that began in 2018 have led to highlight the biggest church known so far in Adulis, probably the ecclesia episcopalis. It stands as a 30 meters long building, which follows the typical Aksumite architectural layout. Also, the great quantity of decorated marbles coming from the church are of great interest, revealing important contacts with Yemen and Byzantium, mostly in the 6th century AD. The new archaeological data will be contextualized in the wider scenario of the rise and establishment of early Christianity in the Aksumite kingdom, until the arrival of Islam.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

Abstract

The dearth of securely dated assemblages in the Horn of Africa limits a comprehensive understanding of human adaptation across the Early Holocene. This paper presents results from initial analyses of lithic material from Dibé rockshelter in the Arsi lowlands, Ethiopia. Radiocarbon dates confirm occupation of Dibé rockshelter by hunter-gatherers directly following improved climatic conditions marking the onset of the Holocene. Microliths dominate both the surface and excavated sub-assemblages. Micro-burins and Levallois items are present, although more frequent as surface finds. Regionally available siliceous rocks were extensively exploited, with greater variety in the older occupation layers signifying differential access to raw material sources and/or wider foraging ranges. Largely similar reduction patterns and toolkits across the sampled sequence imply continuity in lithic tradition. This, coupled with the total absence of finds commonly associated with early food production, suggests that Dibé was abandoned during one of the abrupt arid episodes of the Early/Mid-Holocene.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

Abstract

This research note presents evidence for the oldest Middle Pleistocene Eastern Saharan human activity from the area referred to as the Eastern Desert Atbara River (EDAR), Sudan, which is currently threatened by gold mining. Preliminary results of multifaceted analyses indicate the activity of Homo sapiens during MIS 5 as well as Homo erectus during MIS 7–11 or earlier.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

Abstract

Imiter, mine d’argent de l’Anti-Atlas marocain encore en activité, possède des vestiges archéologiques de travaux miniers et métallurgiques. L’étude de textes anciens et d’artefacts a permis de la rapprocher de la mine d’argent de Todgha connue à l’époque médiévale (El Ajlaoui 1994). Entre 2011 et 2014, une équipe pluridisciplinaire (historien, géologue métallogéniste, géochimiste, archéologues) a entrepris des prospections en surface et en souterrain, la fouille de trois cuves de traitement du minerai ainsi que la caractérisation minéralogique et géochimique de minerais et déchets métallurgiques anciens. Les résultats des datations des cuves placent le dépôt après utilisation entre le II e siècle cal BC et le VI e siècle cal AD, soit avant la période islamique. Cet article fait état des résultats de ces recherches, qui documentent pour la première fois une exploitation antique de l’argent dans les régions méridionales du Maroc, exploitation qui s’est poursuivie à l’époque médiévale.

In: Journal of African Archaeology
Author: Timothy Insoll

Abstract

Twelve species of marine shell were transported in significant quantities from the Red Sea to the trade centre of Harlaa in eastern Ethiopia between the eleventh and early fifteenth centuries AD. Initially, it was thought that species such as the cowries were imported from the Indian Ocean. Subsequent research has found that all were available from the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, c. 120 km east of Harlaa. This suggests that a hitherto largely unrecognised source of marine shells was available, and the Red Sea might have supplied not only the Horn of Africa, but other markets, potentially including Egypt, and from there, elsewhere in North Africa and ultimately West Africa via trans-Saharan routes, as well as Nubia and further south on the Nile in the Sudan, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Arabian/Persian Gulf. This is explored with reference to the shell assemblage from Harlaa, and selected shell assemblages from elsewhere in the Horn of Africa, and trading centres on the Red Sea.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

Abstract

Regarding the history of Borgu (North Benin), well-known events are the legend of Kisra, the war of Ilorin (1835-1836), and the destruction of the city named Niyanpangu. Referred to as Niyanpangu-bansu after its destruction, this archaeological site is known mostly from oral tradition and is located approximately three hundred kilometers west of Nikki (northeast Benin Republic). It has great historical significance which could contribute to our understanding of the history of caravan trade in northern Benin. This paper presents the results of the first ever archaeological research on the site in 2013 and 2014.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

Abstract

Decisions related to the production of lithic technology involve landscape-scale patterns of resource acquisition and transport that are not observable in assemblages from any one single site. In this study, we describe the stone artifacts from a discrete cluster of stone artifacts assigned to the Robberg technocomplex (22-16 ka) at the open-air locality of Uitspankraal 9 (UPK9), which is located near two major sources of toolstone in the Doring River catchment of Western Cape, South Africa. OSL dating of the underlying sediment unit provides a terminus post quem age of 27.5 ± 2.1 ka for the assemblage. Comparison of near-source artifact reduction at UPK9 with data from three rock shelter assemblages within the Doring watershed – Putslaagte 8 (PL8), Klipfonteinrand Rock Shelter (KFR), and Mertenhof Rock Shelter (MRS) – suggests that “gearing-up” with cores and blanks occurred along the river in anticipation of transport into the wider catchment area. The results reveal an integrated system of technological supply in which raw materials from different sources were acquired, reduced, and transported in different ways throughout the Doring River region.

In: Journal of African Archaeology
Author: Flavio Altamura

Abstract

In this paper I discuss the potential of archival research (i.e. the reassessment of pictures and drawings) for the identification of hitherto overlooked fossil footprints. All of the most important sites of the Pleistocene sequence of Melka Kunture (Upper Awash Valley, Ethiopia) showed evidence of biogenic structures that had escaped attention during the archaeological investigations which started in the 1960s. The case studies described here show that fossil footprints at Melka Kunture occur more frequently than expected. This could encourage archaeologists to be more aware of the possible presence of bioturbated layers in other archaeological contexts and plan specific research accordingly, using Melka Kunture as a reference.

In: Journal of African Archaeology