Sacred groves are ubiquitous on the cultural landscape of Ilé-Ifẹ̀ and they have been the site of most archaeological research in the ancient Yoruba city. But these studies have been driven by the view that sacred groves were places of static ritual traditions. Recovering the paraphernalia of those rituals, especially the exquisite sculptures, therefore preoccupied the pioneering archaeological research in Ilé-Ifẹ̀. In contrast, the historical trajectories that defined the evolution and transformation of these groves as dynamic cultural sites have not been undertaken. We make the case in this article that sacred groves are dynamic and meaningful sites for historical negotiation. With this perspective, we conducted archaeological study of Odùduwà Grove in Ile-Ife with the goal to understand the broad sociocultural processes that have shaped the cultural landscape of the grove across different registers of time. The archaeological evidence in Odùduwà Grove dates back to at least the fourteenth century. We focus this article on the evolution of the grove during the twentieth century with emphasis on the materiality of colonial and postcolonial modernity and its implications for rituals of royal coronation, sacrificial rites, and feasting.
In recent years, Garamantian archaeology has received renewed attention from historians and archaeologists, particularly in the south-western corner of Libya in the central Sahara. This paper focuses on the potential of intensive field surveys and digital technologies as applied to a particular segment of the Garamantian state: the ‘castles’ of Wadi Awiss and their associated contexts ― necropoleis and site remains. The combination of a field survey, selected settlement soundings and territorial funerary data provided additional information on the chronological and functional organization of the Garamantian system.
The paper provides a critical review of the archaeozoological information from Ghanaian sites published up to now and summarizes the new faunal analysis of several Gonja and Asante sites. The data suggest the persistence of the use of the various wild animal resources available and limited reliance on domestic animals since late prehistoric times up to today, although certain resources such as molluscs, insects etc. may have limited or no visibility. Intensive utilisation of edible wild resources may be prevalent in African woodlands.
Archaeological deposits in rock shelters have enormous informative potential, particularly in arid environments where organic materials are well preserved. In these areas, sub-fossilized coprolites and dung remains have been identified as valuable proxies for inferences about past environments, subsistence economies and cultural trajectories. Here we present a multidisciplinary analysis of bovid (ovicaprine) coprolites collected from the Early Holocene hunter-gatherer occupation at Takarkori rock shelter (SW Libya, central Sahara). Our results show that Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia) were managed as early as ~9500 years cal BP, mostly with the rearing of juveniles. Palynological analysis of individual pellets suggests a seasonal confinement of the animals and the selection of fodder. GIS analysis of coprolite distribution also indicates sophisticated strategies of Barbary sheep “herding” and spatial differentiation of specialized areas within the rock shelter, including the construction and use of a stone-based enclosure for corralling animals. These highly structured and organized forms of control over wild animals are interpreted as a potential co-evolutionary trigger for the subsequent rapid adoption and integration of the incoming pastoral Neolithic economy.
This article considers pottery sherds from three sites in the Makarauci Valley, Niger, dating from AD 1300-1650, with particular focus on tempering practices. The sherds represented two main types: plain vessels with minerals providing a natural temper, and decorated (mainly pleated strip roulette) vessels tempered with vegetal fibres, now burnt out. There is a very strong correlation between this fibre-tempered fabric and decoration. As the contemporaneity of dates suggests both types of clay were available to the potters, the question arises as to why they used fibre-tempered clays for the manufacture of decorated vessels. We consider evidence for fibre-tempering from around the world and suggest that the answer lies in a combination of cultural and technological factors. Decoration served as the marker of a vessel designed for water storage and carrying, and the decoration disguised the pitted and blemished surface of fibre-tempered pots; the porous fabric meant the vessels were lighter to carry and therefore better suited for water transport.