This paper addresses possible research interaction between different disciplines and speciality areas dealing with the human past from Neolithic times to the Middle Ages. In discussing the whole range of disciplinary cooperation from multi- to inter- and transdisciplinarity, it becomes clear that the mode to be adopted in our case is that of interdisciplinarity. Despite the fact that in the last decades this term has lost much of its attractiveness due to its ubiquity in the rhetoric related to research proposals, it remains a powerful instrument of integrated research. Its success, however, depends on the will and ability of all individual participants to transcend the borders of their specific areas of research. Considering the ongoing internal differentiation of research specialities, future interdisciplinary cooperation will certainly demand a considerable amount of energy and broadly based scholarship.
Since 2003, a joint research project of the universities of Frankfurt and Tübingen (Germany) has explored the changing interrelationship of environment and culture in the forest-savanna regions of West and Central Africa. This paper provides the first archaeological and archaeobotanical results of three field seasons in the rainforest of southern Cameroun. Excavations were carried out at Bwambé Hill in the vicinity of Kribi at the Atlantic coast as well as at Akonétye, Minyin and Abang Minko’o, all located in the hinterland near Ambam. At all sites a number of pit structures, which contained mostly ceramics, were excavated. In addition, at Akonétye two graves with rich ceramic and iron offerings were unearthed. They seem to be the oldest graves with iron objects yet known in Central Africa.
A large body of archaeobotanical material was retrieved from the structures excavated (charcoal fragments, charred fruits and seeds, phytolith and starch samples). Of high importance is the presence of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) at Bwambé Hill and Abang Minko’o in archaeological contexts dated to about 2200 bp. Charcoal and pollen data indicate that the ancient settlements were situated in a closed rainforest which was, however, massively disturbed and partly substituted by pioneer plant formations.