Evidence for the earliest food production, symbolic representation and open air .village communities. in sub-Sahelian West Africa is associated with the Kintampo Tradition ca 3600 bp-3200 bp. This signals a profound transition in socio-economic organisation and technology as available evidence indicates that indigenes of the savanna-forest/forested zone comprised mobile and widely dispersed bands of hunter-gatherers. The Kintampo was originally viewed as a product of migration from the Sahel, but more recently, a syncretic development engendered by the adoption of northern traits by indigenous Punpun Tradition hunter-gatherers has been postulated. Both models are re-considered in view of a series of excavations of rock shelters in central Ghana, including a further re-excavation of K6, which yielded material culture of both traditions. Results are supplemented by a review of previous research, analysis of archival material, consideration of the wider archaeological context of West Africa and enthoarchaeological studies. The model proposed here challenges previous hypotheses for the emergence of the Kintampo out of existing local hunter-gatherer populations.
This study reports on the analysis of macrobotanical remains recovered at three of the B-sites rock shelters in central Ghana (B4C, B5C, B6B), which were excavated under the auspices of the Kintampo Archaeological Research Project (KARP). These rock shelters yielded large quantities of Kintampo material culture as well as pottery attributed to the Punpun. The overall aims are to further our understanding of prehistoric subsistence in tropical West Africa and to address some outstanding issues relating to the economic role of oil palm through the study of macrobotanical remains. Although palynological evidence indicates a substantial rise in oil palm pollen during the Late Holocene, various interpretations of this increase have been proposed. To date, sampling and analysis of macrobotanical remains have not been designed to investigate the nature of oil palm utilisation during this period. We argue that simple archaeobotanical quantification methods indicate that oil palm use during Kintampo occupations of sites B4C, B5C, and B6B and possibly other locales was significant. As such, humans should not be ruled out as agents having an impact on Late Holocene landscapes of West Africa. These and other archaeobotanical data from tropical Africa suggest that arboriculture was a component of prehistoric subsistence.