A detailed archaeological study of the ancient long distance caravan routes across the Eastern Sahara has not yet been established. This paper describes the results of initial investigations on the identification of caravan traces by remote sensing reconnaissance, and archaeological field surveys west of the Nile. During this work, pottery of an obviously common but at present unknown type of a Late Roman or Coptic transport vessel was found along the ancient roads between the Nile Valley and the Egyptian oases. Moreover, one of the vessels contained an organic substance. Chemical analysis of the content indicates degraded and polymerised fat or oil.
This paper presents new information obtained from a recent excavation and reassessment of the stratigraphy, chronology, archaeological assemblages and environmental context of the Apollo 11 rockshelter, which contains the longest late Pleistocene and Holocene archaeological sequence in Namibia. The Middle Stone Age (MSA) industries represented at the site include an early MSA, Still Bay, Howieson’s Poort and late MSA. Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of individual quartz grains yielded numerical ages for the Still Bay and Howieson’s Poort, and indicated the presence of a post-Howieson’s Poort phase. OSL dating also verified conventional and accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon ages for a further two later MSA phases. The timing of the transition from the MSA to the early Later Stone Age was also investigated. Improved resolution of the excavation and a more detailed stratigraphy revealed the presence of near-sterile cultural layers, which in some cases assisted in subdividing the MSA cultural phases. Such information, in combination with the new radiocarbon and OSL chronologies, helps address questions about the duration and continuity of MSA occupation at the site. Analyses of the faunal and archaeobotanical remains show some differences between the occupation phases at the site that may be associated with changing environmental conditions.
In the Niger Bend, many studies have shown the existence of settlement mounds which mainly developed between the 1st millennium BC and the 15th century AD. While knowledge about tell-type sites in sub-Saharan Africa has advanced in recent years, many aspects of this topic remain poorly understood. Considering the vast geographic area and time span, there is very little accurate chronostratigraphic information available. This relative lack of long sequences strongly limits the diachronic integration of cultural, economic and environmental data, necessary to unravel the socio-economic mechanisms underlying the emergence and development of this type of site. In this paper, we present the results of the excavations we recently conducted on a group of settlement mounds at Sadia, on the Seno Plain (Dogon Country, Mali), which allow a precise chronological, cultural and environmental sequence to be defined. By combining this work and the results from an extensive approach applied throughout the Dogon Country for more than fifteen years, we provide a scenario for the Seno tells and an insight into the development of Sahelian rural societies, including considerations on their interactions with the early State polities of the Niger Bend, prior to AD 1400.