The textile evidence for the archaeological site of Kissi, Burkina Faso, is presented and the implications for the history of weaving in West Africa are discussed. Woolen textiles have been preserved in Iron Age graves of the first millennium AD due to the corrosion of metal objects in the graves. This lucky circumstance adds further examples to the very small corpus of first millennium AD textile finds, pushing back in time the evidence for the demand and use of cloth in sub-Saharan Africa.
Archaeological investigations on settlements and graveyards near the Mare de Kissi in NE Burkina Faso proved human occupation at that location at least from the 4th century BC up to the 12th/13th century AD. Among others, one important category of finds recovered from excavations are beads: about five thousand of various materials were found, especially as grave goods in the cemeteries, but also in the settlement zones. A clear imbalance in raw materials is visible between beads found in the settlement zones and those from the cemeteries: there is a trend towards low value materials in the settlement zones, while beads found in the graves demonstrate wealth and important trade relations of that society.