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This paper addresses a number of connected issues revolving around mortuary practices in the Senegambian megalithic traditions, through the lenses of the intriguing double-monolith-circle #27 of Sine-Ngayene, also known as Diallombere. Despite more than a century of archaeological investigation, the diversity of Senegambian megalithic features is still very poorly understood. Most of the cases investigated so far have been claimed to feature single or multiple simultaneous primary burials. The presence of incomplete skeletons is generally explained by poor preservation due to soils’ corrosive effects. Monument #27, located at the center of the Sine- Ngayene cemetery, presents an unexpectedly long uselife, characterized by shifting ways of arranging humans’ skeletal remains — mortuary codes switching — as well as their associated ritual use of material culture, within the general context of secondary burial practices. Four distinct and successive cycles, spanning over ca 700 years (AD 700 – AD 1350), have been identified and the construction sequence of this complex monument deciphered.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

Tobacco pipes are among the most frequently recorded artifacts from historic period sites in West Africa, and can be used to both establish tight chronologies and address issues of social and economic change.This paper is a discussion of the 300-year sequence of tobacco pipes recovered from excavations at Jenne, Mali in 1999. The assemblage, which includes over 300 fragments, is first placed in its historical and archaeological context. The pipes are fully described using a multivariate approach, and the results illustrate a clear sequence. Following a reassessment of Daget & Ligers’ previously proposed pipe chronology for the Inland Niger Delta, the pipes are analyzed using two primary frames of reference. On a broad regional scale, the assemblage is compared with those from sites throughout West Africa, while on the local level possible motivations for the types of changes seen in the assemblage are discussed.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

Along with Ghana, Gawgaw (Gao) was an important regional trading polity mentioned by Arab chroniclers in the later first millennium CE. In the later tenth century, al-Muhallabi wrote of the dual towns of Gawgaw, one the residence of the king and the other a market and trading town called Sarneh. The large settlement mound of Gao Saney, located seven kilometers east of Gao, has long been thought to be the site of Sarneh. Excavations in 2001–2 and 2009 were the first sustained archaeological explorations of the main, 32-hectare mound, providing new information on function, subsistence economy, material culture, and chronology, and expanding considerably on earlier investigations by T. Insoll and R. Mauny. This article presents a broad overview of the recent excavations, focusing particularly on the evidence for spatial differentiation (domestic and workshop areas), chronology (both radiocarbon and ceramic) and involvement in trade networks.

In: Journal of African Archaeology