Browse results

We report on aspects of diet and subsistence patterns of late 1st and early 2nd millennium AD farmers from the Upemba Depression of Katanga, DRC, as reconstructed from stable isotopes and dental caries. While the archaeology of this region is well known from cemeteries, details of the subsistence base of these communities are not well known, because occupation sites have not yet been identified. Carbon isotope measurements show that individuals buried at Sanga ate diets rich in C4-based resources, and suffered high rates of dental caries, similar to those seen among farmers in southern Africa. People buried at Katoto consumed more C3 foods, and presented with lower caries prevalence. Their diets probably included more cucurbits, legumes and root crops. Oxygen isotopes also differ between the two sites, likely due to different sources of drinking water. Our results indicate that the crops grown and the diets consumed at Sanga and Katoto were substantially different, although the sites are only 130 km apart. The cultural differences previously noted between the two sites were underpinned by differences in subsistence economy, pointing to a higher degree of variation in these societies than previously known.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

This article examines the relationship between rock art and landscape use by pastoral groups and early settled communities in the central Sahara from around 6000 BC to 1000 AD. During this period the region experienced significant climatic and environmental fluctuations. Using new results from a systematic survey in the Wadi al-Ajal, south-west Libya, our research combines data from over 2000 engraved rock art panels with local archaeological and palaeoenvironmental evidence within a GIS model. Spatial analysis of these data indicates a correspondence between the frequency of rock art sites and human settlement over time. However, while changes in settlement location were guided primarily by the constraints on accessibility imposed by surface water, the distribution of rock art relates to the availability of pasture and patterns of movement through the landscape. Although the reasons for these movements undoubtedly altered over time, natural routes that connected the Wadi al-Ajal and areas to the south continued to be a focus for carvings over several thousand years.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

We report the preliminary results of chemical analysis by laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry of 156 glass beads from sites in southern Africa. Almost all of these beads can be grouped in two chemical types based on oxide compositions and glass recipes. Glasses of these types were manufactured in south and/or southeast Asia. These are the first results of a project that will analyse about 1000 beads from African archaeological sites.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

Chemical analysis of 31 glass beads from the sites of Mahilaka and Sandrakatsy in Madagascar, which date to approximately the 9th to 15th centuries CE, reveals the presence of two main types of glass: mineral- soda glasses and plant-ash glasses. Most of these glasses were probably made in South Asia.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

The Central Nigerian Nok Culture and its well-known terracotta figurines have been the focus of a joint research project between the Goethe University Frankfurt and the National Commission for Museums and Monuments in Nigeria since 2005. One major research question concerns chronological aspects of the Nok Culture, for which a period from around the middle of the first millennium BC to the first centuries AD had been suggested by previous investigations. This paper presents and discusses the radiocarbon and luminescence dates obtained by the Frankfurt Nok project. Combining the absolute dates with the results of a comprehensive pottery analysis, a chronology for the Nok Culture has been developed. An early phase of the Nok Culture’s development begins around the middle of the second millennium BC. Its main phase, in which terracotta figurines and iron production appear, starts in the 9th century BC and ends in the 4th century BC. A later phase with vanishing evidence extends into the last centuries BC. On sites dating from the first centuries AD onwards no more Nok terracotta or pottery are found; the end of the Nok Culture is thus set around the turn of the Common Era.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

In southwestern Niger, near Niamey, several thousand singleuse bloomery furnaces have been mapped and identified. The archaeological study of approximately 30 furnaces and their slag reveals the existence of four methods for iron smelting: three types of pit furnace and one slag-tapping type. The slag pit furnaces are clearly differentiated by the form and volume of their pits. All slag-tapping furnaces drain off slag through small openings. The slag is tapped either vertically or laterally. According to radiocarbon dates, the smelting activity developed in the 2nd century AD and intensified through to the 14th century. It continued to evolve until the middle of the 20th century. The low intensity of iron production for these furnaces indicates the products were intended mainly for the local market.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

The auxiliary regiments of the Imperial Roman army were as vital to the defensive and offensive capabilities of the Roman Empire as the better-known Roman legions. Initially raised on an ethnic basis through the levy from among Rome’s subject peoples, and then maintained at or near their full strength by conscription and voluntary recruitment, these units of auxilia were often deployed far from their original ‘home’. As such, by analysing where these units were recruited and in what numbers, and then studying their subsequent history and deployment, it is possible to begin an assessment of their full value to Rome and to better comprehend overall developments in Roman strategic thinking. This paper contributes to such an appraisal by reviewing the evidence for the history and deployment of the three cohortes Augustae Cyrenaicae, among the least well-known auxiliary units in the entire Roman army.

In: Journal of African Archaeology