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This paper presents the Early and Late Neolithic pottery of Ifri Oudadane, a littoral shelter in Northeast Morocco containing both Epipalaeolithic as well as Neolithic deposits. The transition is indicated by the appearance of domesticated plant and animal species, pottery and diverse changes in lithic technology. A domesticated lentil dated to 7.6 ka cal BP may mark the onset of this transitional process. With the help of 22 14C-ages the Early Neolithic deposit can be subdivided in three phases (ENA, ENB, ENC). In addition, the ENC phase contained the remains of a sporadic Late Neolithic occupation. Pottery decoration of the initial ENA phase (7.6–7.3 ka cal BP) is dominated by single Cardium impressions forming horizontal and vertical bands of impressions arranged vertical, horizontal or oblique. The successive ENB phase represents the main occupation phase between 7.1 and 6.6 ka cal BP. By means of statistical methods its assemblage, which consists of 243 vessel units, could be further subdivided (ENB1, ENB2). While ENB1 (7.1–6.9 ka cal BP) is still characterised by single Cardium impressions, the transition to ENB2 is marked by the appearance of Cardium and, later, comb impressions made using rocker stamp technique as well as a few impressions of points and spatulas, striations and modelled applications. Thus the pottery assemblage of Ifri Oudadane offers insights into the first occurrence of pottery in Mediterranean Northwest Africa and opens up the possibility for an internal classification of the Early Neolithic.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

Located in the Omo-Turkana basin at the northern limit of the Koobi Fora sedimentary Formation, the Fejej region has recently proven to be a rich study area for understanding early hominin behaviour and paleoenvironmental conditions. Among the rich fossiliferous and stone artefact localities discovered so far at Fejej, the FJ-1a archeological site has yielded a faunal and lithic assemblage in primary context. The archeological level is situated within a 15 meter fluvial sequence beneath a volcanic tuff. Geochronological data from the FJ-1 sequence indicate an age of nearly 1,9 Ma for the FJ-1a artefact level. The stone industry was knapped from locally available raw materials (mainly quartz and basalt) and rocks had been carefully selected according to specific petrographical and formal criterion. Hominins mastered several distinct stone knapping methods and used more or less exhaustive reduction sequences in order to produce small flakes. The different techniques used for stone reduction are defined in this paper thanks to a series of refits of flakes onto cores. Along with the refits, an in-depth analysis of the flakes, cores and worked pebbles provides an overview of the technological capacities of hominins present at the site nearly 2 million years ago. After the Fejej FJ-1a site was abandoned the archeological materials were rapidly buried, leaving an almost undisturbed archeological level. This site appears to represent a short episode of hominin occupation.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

The Bantu expansion, a major topic in African archaeology and history, is widely assumed to correlate with the spread of farming, but archaeological data on the subsistence of these putative early Bantu speakers are very sparse. However, finds of domesticated pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) in southern Cameroonian archaeological sites, dated between 400 and 200 BC, open new perspectives on the history of agriculture in the Central African rain forest.

Linguistic evidence suggests that pearl millet was part of early agricultural traditions of Bantu speakers, and has to a great extent been distributed during the course of their expansion over large parts of western Bantu-speaking Africa, possibly even originally from their homeland in the Nigerian-Cameroonian borderland.

In combining archaeobotanical, palaeoenvironmental and linguistic data, we put forward the hypothesis that an agricultural system with pearl millet was brought into the rain forest during the first millennium BC, and that its spread across Central Africa coincided with the dispersal of certain Bantu language subgroups.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

The emergence of pottery is a compelling issue for archaeologists. In Africa, pottery appeared in what is now the southern part of the Sahara and the Sahel at different localities and in different contexts in the 10th millennium bp. This paper aims to give an overview of the available data concerning early pottery in Northern Africa. The radiocarbon evidence is considered as well as technological features of the pottery, the decoration and the site context. The areas of the earliest appearance of pottery in Northern Africa were uninhabited during the hyperarid phase at the end of the Pleistocene. Intriguing questions are therefore the origin of the Early Holocene occupants and of their knowledge of potting and of course the role of early pottery in the prehistoric groups.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

Fragmentary glass-working crucibles, drawn glass beads and ritual glass objects (aje ileke) from Ile-Ife, southwestern Nigeria, were analysed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM-EDS), electron probe microanalysis (EPMA) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF). The very unusual high-lime, high-alumina glass lining the crucibles matched the composition of the dark blue drawn beads and some of the blue and green glass fragments in the aje ileke. Similar crucible fragments, glass cullet and drawn glass beads were recovered during Frank Willett's excavations (1956-63) of two sites in Ile-Ife, and Claire Davison's unpublished chemical analyses from 1972 show the same high-lime, highalumina glass from Ita Yemoo, with radiocarbon dates from the eleventh to thirteenth century CE, and Orun Oba Ado, with radiocarbon dates from the eighth to twelfth century. Such high-lime, high-alumina glass has been found only in West Africa, including Igbo-Ukwu in southern Nigeria, and is not known from Europe, the Middle East or Asia, ruling out the possibility that the glass was imported. We interpret these findings to propose the primary manufacture of high-lime, high-alumina glass in sub-Saharan Africa in the early second millennium CE, with production centred in southern Nigeria, and quite possibly in or near Ile-Ife. The results of our study, combined with those of Davison, provide the first strong evidence for early primary glass production in sub-Saharan Africa.

In: Journal of African Archaeology
In: Journal of African Archaeology
In: Journal of African Archaeology
In: Journal of African Archaeology