Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Historians, are Archeologists Your Siblings?

  • Jan Vansina (a1)
Abstract

The historian of pre-nineteenth century Africa…cannot get far without the aid of archaeology.

Nevertheless, historians have good reason to be cautious about historical generalisations by archaeologists and about their own use of archaeological material…: it would be a rash historian who totally accepted the conclusions of Garlake and Huffman with the same simple-minded trust as I myself accepted the conclusions of Summers and Robinson.

In the beginning, historians of Africa put great store by archeology. Was its great time depth not one of the distinctive features of the history of Africa, a condition that cannot be put aside without seriously distorting the flavor of all its history? Did not the relative scarcity and the foreign authorship of most precolonial written records render archeological sources all the more precious? Did not history and archeology both deal with the reconstruction of human societies in the past? Was the difference between them not merely the result of a division of labor based on sources, so that historical reconstruction follows in time and flows from archeological reconstruction? Such considerations explain why the Journal of African History has regularly published regional archeological surveys in order to keep historians up to date.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Historians, are Archeologists Your Siblings?
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Historians, are Archeologists Your Siblings?
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Historians, are Archeologists Your Siblings?
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
References
Hide All

Notes

1. Oliver Roland, “Preface” in Jones D.H., ed., History and Archaeology (London 1959).

2. Ranger T.O., “Towards a Usable Past” in Fyfe Christopher, ed. African Studies Since 1945 (Edinburgh, 1976), 21.

3. McIntosh R.J. and McIntosh S.K., “The Inland Niger Delta Before the Empire of Mali: Evidence From Jenne-Jeno,” JAH 22 (1981), 122.

4. (London 1976). For the transition see ibid., 63-79.

5. This paper was triggered by the desire to discuss the concrete contributions of archeology in the following recent publications: Phillipson David W., African Archaeology (2d. ed.: Cambridge, 1993); Shaw Thurstan, Sinclair Paul, Andah Bassey, and Okpoko Alex, eds., The Archaeology of Africa: Food, Metals, and Towns (London, 1993); Cornevin Marianne, Archéologie africaine (Paris, 1993); Devisse Jean, ed., Vallées du Niger (Paris, 1993); and McIntosh Susan Keech, “Changing Perceptions of West Africa's Past,” Journal of Archaeological Research 2(1994), 165–98.

6. Steward Julian, Theory of Culture Change (Urbana, 1955); White Leslie, The Evolution of Culture (New York, 1959). For an appreciation of the theory now see Yoffee N., “Too Many Chiefs? (or Safe Texts for the ‘90's)” in Yoffee Norman and Sheratt Andrew, eds., Archaeological Theory: Who Sets the Agenda? (Cambridge, 1993), 6077.

7. In both the first edition (1985) and the second edition of Phillipson's African Archaeology, 9 “Virtually every major subsequent stage in mankind's development may be illustrated from the African record” concludes the first paragraph of his discussion of “Africa in world prehistory.” Two paragraphs later 1985's “were broady similar” actually becomes “followed similar stages” in 1993, and both have the telling juxtaposition of evolution and technology in “…Upper Pleistocene Africa may have been a world leader both in the evolution of our species and in its technological development” (9 in 1985/10 in 1993). See also “various developmental stages…,” ibid., 60.

8. Phillipson avoids using them in his African Archaeology, 63, although he once says that “with the passage of time, human culture became more complex.”

9. Ibid., 5.

10. Ibid., 99, 100.

11. Note the subtitle Food, Metals, and Towns of T. Shaw et al. eds., Archaeology, for the later part of the sequence, which also reflects the sequence of topics discussed in the work.

12. This is also true for research. Comparative research in various classes of objects other than stone or pots, such as metal fanning tools, has been very much neglected.

13. Phillipson, African Achaeology, 208–09.

14. Vogel J., “Microenvironments, Swidden and the Early Iron Age Settlement of South-western Zambia,” Azania 21 (1986), 85, idem., “Iron-Age Farmers in Southwestern Zambia: Some Aspects of Spatial Organisation,” African Archaeological Review [hereafter AAR 5(1987) 159-70.

15. Vansina Jan, Habitat, Economy and Society in the Central African Rainforest (Providence/Oxford 1992).

16. Phillipson, African Archaeology/1985, 148–49.

17. Phillipson, African Achaeology/1993, 159–60.

18. Trigger B.G.The History of African Archaeology in World Perspective” in Robertshaw P., ed., A History of African Archaeology (London, 1990), 315, and “migration” in index; Huffman T.N., “Ceramics, Settlements, and Late Iron Age Migrations,” AAR 7 (1989), 156.

19. McIntosh, “Changing Perceptions,” 169-71, 180; Vernet R., “Préhistoire des bassins affluents de la rive gauche du Niger” in Devisse, Vallées du Niger, 66, 6769, for an elegant demonstration; Phillipson, African Archaeology, 127.

20. Ibid., 188.

21. Collett D.P., “The Spread of Early Iron–Producing Communities in Eastern and Southern Africa” (Ph.D., Cambridge, 1985). A controversy over pottery found on forager sites in south-central Africa is still unresolved. Some archeologists even see the presence of pottery not only as an early independent introduction of ceramics among foragers, but as evidence for an early independent introduction of herding among stone-using communities.

22. Huffman, “Ceramics,” 155–82. See his complaint about “deep-seated prejudice against migration hypotheses in general,” 188. Also his Iron Age Migrations: The Ceramic Sequence in Southern Zambia (Johannesburg, 1989), esp. 59.

23. Flannery K.V., “Culture History vs. Culture Process: a Debate in American Archaeology,” Scientific American 217 (1967), 119–22, and for Africa, Robertshaw, History, 53-54, 86, 314–16.

24. McIntosh, “Changing Perceptions,” 179.

25. For instance, Denbow J., “A New Look at the Later Prehistory of the Kalahari,” JAH 27 (1986), 328, and Huffman T.N., “Southern Africa to the South of the Zambezi” in UNESCO General History of Africa, 3:643–63, for early studies in this vein. For a sample of quite elaborated and complex spatial analysis of a little more recent vintage see Sinclair P. J. J., Pirikayi I., Pwiti G., and Soper R.Urban Trajectories on the Zimbabwean Plateau” in Shaw, Archaeology, 705–31.

26. Huffman T.N., Symbols in Stone: Unravelling the Mystery of Great Zimbabwe (Johannesburg, 1987), is the most general statement of arguments which he developed in several articles. Critics emphasize that he disregards the internal chronology of the urban site as it grew and reject the validity of his inferences about symbolic meaning by analogy with symbols used ca. 1900 in southern Africa—e.g., Collett D.P., Vines A.E., and Hughes E.G., “The Chronology of the Valley Enclosures: Implications for the Interpretation of Great Zimbabwe,” AAR 10 (1992), 139–61.

27. McIntosh, “Changing Perceptions,” 185–86; McIntosh R.J., “Middle Niger Terracottas Before the Symplegades Gateway,” African Arts 22 (1989), 7483; MacEachern Scott, “‘Symbolic Reservoirs’ and Inter-Group Relations: West African Examples,” AAR 12 (1994), 205–24

28. For this acrimonious debate see the articles and comments in Current Anthropology 31-33(1990-92). More recent is Lee R.B. and Guenther M., “Problems in Kalahari Historical Ethnography and the Tolerance of Error,” HA 20 (1993), 185235, and Wilmsen E., “On the Search for [Truth] and Authority: A Reply to Lee and Guenther,” Current Anthropology 34 (1993), 715–21. A book by Wilmsen and Denbow devoted to the issue should be available soon.

29. Phillipson, African Archaeology/1985, 139, 164.

30. Phillipson, African Archaeology/1993, 181 (paragraph), 182 (location and plan).

31. McIntosh, “Changing Perceptions,” 165–67.

32. Ibid., 179, announcing Stahl A.B., “Change and Continuity in the Banda Area, Ghana: The Direct Historical Approach,” Journal of Field Achaeology 21 (1994), 181203.

33. De Barros P., “Changing Paradigms: Goals and Methods of the Archaeology of Francophone West Africa” in Robertshaw, History, 156. More generally, most atlases of archeology follow this approach—e.g., Bersani J., ed., Le grand atlas d'archéologie (Paris, 1985)—adopt such views.

34. E.g. Devisse J., “La recherche archéologique et sa contribution à l'histoire de l'Afrique,” Recherche de pédagogie et culture 55 (1981), 28.

35. For his treatment of gold see Devisse, Vallées du Niger, esp. 344-57, 503–11.

36. Devisse, “Recherche,” esp. note 29, where he inveighs both against hasty hypotheses, citing Phillipson on Bantu migration, and against models as perhaps suited for relativistic Anglo-minds, but as poison for absolutistic Franco-minds.

37. Devisse, Vallées du Niger, 280-86, 342, 426-30, 456–63.

38. Phillipson, African Archaeology, 173–14.

39. Ibid., 174.

40. Devisse, Vallées du Niger, 218–48; Sidibé S., “Archéologie funéraire de l'Ouest africain: sépultures et rites” (PhD., Université de Paris I, 1980); McIntosh S. K. and McIntosh R.J., “Field Survey in the Tumulus Zone of Senegal,” AAR 11 (1993), 73107, and references there.

41. McIntosh, “Changing Perceptions,” 186.

42. For the situation at Koumbi Saleh see Devisse J. and Diallo Boubacar, “Le seuil de Wagadu” in Devisse, Vallées du Niger, 108–14. For the latest foray in Gao, Ingersoll T., “Archaeological Research in Gao, the Republic of Mali.” Saharan Studies Association Newsletter 2/1 (1994), 811.

43. E.g., Fagan Brian M., Iron Age Cultures in Zambia (2 vols.: London, 19671969).

44. E.g., de Maret P., Fouilles archéologiques dans la vallée du Haut-Lualaba, Zaire, I. Textes (Tervuren, 1985).

45. E.g., Bedeaux R., “The Tellem Research Project: the Archaeological Context” in Bolland R., ed., Tellem Textiles (Amsterdam, 1991).

46. E.g., Shaw T., Igbo Ukwu: An Account of Archaeological Discoveries in Eastern Nigeria (2 vols.: Evanston, 1970).

47. E.g., Schmidt P.R., Historical Archaeology: A Structural Approach in an African Culture (Westport, 1978), for smelting sites.

48. E.g., Connah G., Three Thousand Years in Africa (Cambridge, 1981), the Daima mound in northern Nigeria.

49. E.g., Chittick N., Manda: Excavations at an Island Port on the Kenya Coast, (Nairobi, 1984); or Babacar A.O. et al., Tegdaoust III: Campagnes 1960/65: enquêtes générales (Paris, 1983), one of six volumes devoted to Tegdaoust.

50. McIntosh, “Changing Perceptions,” 179.

51. Phillipson, African Archaeology, 226, where he argues that a sharp break occurred there between earlier ceramics and the Luangwa-tradition ushering in a Later Iron Age in this region. But see his report, Excavations at Twickenham Road, Lusaka,” Azania 5 (1970), 77118. Most of the LIA material came from two adjacent pits (103-08) each about one meter in diameter and containing mostly tiny shards (shown on a scale of10 cm). Twelve shards were EIA, and about 100 LIA. Pits mean a disturbed stratigraphy and small shards are susceptible to movement in the soil after deposit. Under these circumstances one cannot hope for a clear stratigraphy, and hence one cannot claim a sharp break between LIA and EIA. One should also be wary of claiming that objects at the same level in one of the pits were contemporary with each other. Two dates stemming from the waterlogged deposits at the bottom of one of these pits are later than two others from a pit adjudged to have been EIA, but all four dates can overlap at a tenth century (now after further correction an eleventh century) date, which makes all the material in all the pits contemporary.

52. Denbow J., “Cenchrus ciliaris: An Archeological Indicator of Iron Age Middens Using Aerial Photography in Eastern Botswana,” South African Journal of Science 76 (1979), 405–08.

53. Mason R. J., “Transvaal and Natal Iron Age Settlement Revealed by Aerial Photographs and Excavation,” African Studies 27 (1968), 167–80.

54. Dembelé Mamadi et al., “Prospections de sites archéologiques dans le delta intérieur du Niger” in Devisse, Vallées du Niger, 218–32; R. and S. McIntosh in ibid., 234-48.

55. M. R. MacLean, “Late Stone Age and Early Iron Age Settlement Patterns in Rakai District, South-Western Uganda,” Azania, forthcoming.

56. Denbow J., “Congo to Kalahari: Data and Hypotheses About the Political Economy of the Western Stream of the Early Iron AgeAAR 8 (1990), 140, figure 1; Huffman, “Ceramics,” 161, figure 3.

57. Kirkman J., The Arab City of Gedi (London, 1954) was the first among these volumes. Note also that until recently only the stone ruins of urban settlements in Zimbabwe were mapped, again showing odd gaps between structures, until further research plotted the clay floors of ordinary houses which filled most of the urban space.

58. Something similar also holds for Axum. Cf. Michels J. W., “Review Article: Excavations at Axum,” AAR 8 (1990), 177–88, and figures 1-4.

59. The latest synthesis is that of N.M. Katanekwa, “The Iron Age in Zambia: Some New Evidence and Interpretations,” Azania forthcoming, and is once again entirely devoted to a discussion of ceramic styles.

60. Huffman, “Ceramics.”

61. Shaw, Igbo Ukwu, is a model site report.

62. Clist B., “A Critical Reappraisal of the Chronological Framework of the Early Urewe Iron Age Industry,” Muntu 6 (1987), 3562, reviews the issues involved in establishing reliable carbon 14 and thermoluminescence dates in a particular situation. It underlines the difficulties of establishing a secure association between a carbon sample and an artefact, as well as the uncertainties deriving from the techniques themselves and their conversion to calendar dates. In practice there is plenty of scope for subjective evaluations.

63. E.g., Haaland R., “Excavations at Dakawa, an Early Iron Age Site in East-Central Tanzania,” Nyame Akuma no. 40 (1993), 5051, argues that the type of furnace found there is similar to one at Samaru West in Nigeria “with no similar remains in intervening regions” and describes this as “puzzling.”

64. Phillipson, African Archaeology, 194, about sites excavated by Katanekwa on the upper Zambezi, where pottery and bones of domestic animals were found. He generalizes (196) and the general rule then (202) allows him to claim that wherever ceramics and stone tools are associated, the sites belong to nomadic foragers who borrowed shards or pots for their curiosity or prestige value.

65. McIntosh, “Changing Perceptions,” 182–86, for West Africa.

66. E.g., Herbert E., Iron, Gender, and Power: Rituals of Transformation in African Societies (Bloomington, 1993). The work establishes a general paradigm of iron-smelting as ritual transformation, using ethnographic data, and discusses the application of the paradigm to earlier periods (ibid., 121-26). For a list of recent experiments in iron-smelting, ibid., 239-40.

67. Cornevin, Archéologie africaine, 7679, still repeats this nonsense and defends it by an appeal to the “extraordinary social and religious conservatism of Africa societies” which she still observed in the 1950s.

68. Phillipson, African Archaeology, 202–03.

69. Denbow J., “A New Look at the Later Prehistory of the Kalahari,” JAH 27 (1986), 325. See also his “Congo to Kalahari” for a different reconstruction valid for northwestern Botswana, in which additional evidence for the eastern Kalahari reconstruction is presented.

70. Huffman T.N., “Archaeology and Ethnohistory of the African Iron Age,” Annual Review of Anthropology 5 (1982), 133–50; idem., “Archaeological Evidence and Conventional Explanations of Southern Bantu Settlement Patterns,” Africa 56(1986), 280-98. The argument rests on Kuper's claim that the plans have symbolic dimensions and express fundamental features of social organization. Kuper A., “Symbolic Dimensions of the Southern Bantu Homestead,” Africa 50 (1980), 823; idem., “The House and Zulu Politics in the Nineteenth Century,” JAH 34 (1993), 473-74. Hall M., “The Myth of the Zulu Homestead: Archaeology and Ethnography,” Africa 54 (1984), 65–79 and idem., The Changing Past (Cape Town, 1987), 72, criticizes the approach as “ahistoric,” i.e., anachronistic. Yet there exists continuity in the settlement plans since the seventh century or even earlier, which explains why most scholars accept the pattern and most of the social organization inferred from it. Studies using the technique of “words and things” could be quite helpful in checking the validity of such inferences.

71. McIntosh, “Changing Perceptions,” 179; Tamari Tal, “Les castes au Soudan occidental: étude anthropologique et historique” (Ph.D., Université de Paris X, 1988), established on the basis of vocabulary studies that the caste system in western Sudan is quite old, although the date of its inception remains unknown. See also Tamari, “The Development of Caste Systems in West Africa,” JAH 32 (1991), 221–50, where she dates their appearance among the Malinke to no later than 1300.

72. E.g., Robertshaw, History.

73. For the great lakes see Clist, “Critical Reappraisal,” 4042: sources of possible discrepancies; 45: rejection of both late and early dates by the excavator; 48: refusal to accept early dates in Burundi because corresponding early dates for Tanzania had been rejected; 50-55: discussion of large numbers of dates treated together with the elimination of both isolated early and late dates. For West Africa, McIntoshChanging Perceptions,” 173, dismisses early dates for iron-smelting in the Termit massif as due to “fossil charcoal,” according to Killick J.D., “On the Dating of African Metallurgical Sites,” Nyame Akuma, no. 28(1987), 2930. But Paris F. et al., “Peuplements et environnements holocènes du bassin de l'Azawagh oriental (Niger)” in Devisse, Vallées du Niger, 388, accept even earlier dates which were recently obtained from organic material included as temper in the clay of the tuyères. Was this organic material that turned to charcoal as the tuyère was baked or was it already “fossil charcoal” when used as temper? Apparently McIntosh believes the latter since she does not accept the dating.

74. McIntosh, “Changing Perceptions,” 170, 178, and note the later disappearance of a distinct “Mechtoid” type of people.

75. Communication with Northern Africa existed since about the beginning of the Christian era, as the recovery of a few North African beads at Jenne-Jeno and in Niger of a metal figurine from the second century A.D., which was the base of a second-century A.D. mirror from Cyrenaica, tell us. Cf. Devisse, Vallées du Niger, 546, #81. Exports of gold to North Africa probably began by ca. 300 A.D. Cf. Garrard T.F.Myth and Metrology: The Early Trans-Saharan Gold Trade,” JAH 23 (1982), 443–62.

76. McIntosh R. J. and McIntosh S. K., “Jenne-Jeno and the Inland Niger Delta.” JAH 22 (1981), 16; idem., “Cities without Citadels: Understanding Urban Origins Along the Middle Niger” in Shaw, Archaeology, 627-34. The town covered 33 ha in ca. 800 A.D.

77. Gado Boube, “Un ‘village des morts’ à Bura en République du Niger” in Devisse. Vallées du Niger, 365–74, and illustrations, 550-56, #96-130. More dating is needed.

78. Ibid., 572, #209, for an illustration and bibliography.

79. The presence of domestic fowl at Jenne-Jeno, ca. 450-850 A.D. could be a further indication of pre-Islamic contacts with the Mediterranean world. Cf. MacDonald K.C. and Edwards D.E., “Chicken in Africa: the Importance of Qasr Ibrim,” Antiquity 67 (1993), 588.

80. Garrard “Myth and Metrology.”

81. McIntosh R.J. and McIntosh S.K., “Finding West Africa's Oldest City,” National Geographic Magazine, 162/3 (March 1982), 407 (graph and illustration).

82. Devisse, Vallées du Niger, 356–57. One date around 1400 A.D. has been reported so far.

83. Insoll T., “Archaeological Research in Gao,” Saharan Studies Association Newsletter 2/1 (1994), 811, found a cache of hippopotamus ivory dated to before the eleventh century. Unaware of Regnoult's findings, he suggests that Gao's wealth was at least in part derived from the export of ivory, but gold from the Sirba valley seems an even more likely candidate for this role.

84. McIntosh, “Changing Perceptions,” 178–79.

85. Bedeaux, “Tellem Research Project,” 3436.

86. McIntoshChanging Perceptions,” 178 (Mema, Dia, Jenne-Jeno, Timbuktu).

87. Levtzion N., Ancient Ghana and Mali (London 1973), 1628, is still authoritative. Note that in part two of this work (105-217) his reconstructions fuse both Ghana and Mali. Levtzion's views on the beginnings of Mali and on the Susu kingdom are beginning to be challenged. Cf. Lange Dierk, “Das alte Mali und Ghana. Der Beitrag der Oraltraditionen zur Kritik einer Historiographischen Fiktion,” Historisches Zeitschrift 255 (1992), 587623; Bühnen Stephan, “In Quest of Susu,” HA 21 (1994), 147.

88. Levtzion, Ancient Ghana, 109.

89. McIntosh S.K., “A Reconsideration of Wangara/Palolus, Island of Gold,” JAH 22 (1981), 145–58, asserts this in convincing fashion.

90. The recent exploration of the closest Sahel area south of Ghana tells us that the valley was not inhabited in the first millennium A.D. MacDonald K.C. and Jones P. Allsworth, “A Reconsideration of the West African Macrolithic Conundrum: New Factory Sites and an Associated Settlement in the Vallée du Serpent, Mali,” AAR 12 (1994), 77. All around Kumbi Saleh in the other directions only very limited settlement was possible, whether in the few towns such as Awdaghast or not. Devisse/Diallo, “Seuil de Wagadu,” 103–15.

91. The boots and trousers found are of a later date, contemporary with Mali. Is there a link between these articles of clothing and cavalry? They are not represented on equestrian ceramic figures. de Grunne C. B., “Heroic Riders and Divine Horses: an Analysis of Ancient Soninke and Dogon Equestrian Figures From the Inland Niger Delta Region in Mali,” Bulletin of the Minneapolis Institute of Art 60 (19831986), 7896.

92. Bedeaux, “Tellem Research Project,” 1634, for the objects. Many are also illustrated in his contributions in Devisse, Vallées du Niger, 280–86 (known distribution of footed bowls, map, 285), 425-30, and 456-63.

93. McIntosh/McIntoshCities Without Citadels,” 631–34. The “craft associations” (632) are an expression of the caste system.

94. Phillipson, African Archaeology, 187205. The second edition adds material relating to various “streams” of the Chifumbaze complex and on its further development in southern Africa (192-95), as well as some data about cultivated plants (188, 197), and the layout of settlements (197, 198), and it mentions the controversy over the technological sophistication of early iron smelters in Buhaya (188). It also accepts the alleged similarity of pottery at Benfica (near Luanda) with early potteries in Zambia, despite the exiguity of the evidence (193-94), and it takes no account of reservations made by others about the grouping of all the ceramics into a single stylistic whole.

95. Vansina J., “A Slow Revolution: Farming in Subequatorial Africa,” Azania 30 (1994).

96. Phillipson, African Archaeology, 238, agrees and adds that “remnant populations” were now rapidly absorbed. The evidence is strongest for the Mawogola area in Uganda, the east African coast, the Manda area near lake Nyasa in Tanzania, central Zambia, the Lualaba depression in Shaba, eastern Botswana, and portions of Transvaal.

97. Especially in the Lualaba depression, at Feti in central Angola, and at Nqoma, west of the Okavango delta. Unfortunately, no serious comparative study of these metalwares has been undertaken.

98. Vansina, “Slow Revolution,” details this process. The evidence involves the changing proportions of game/domestic animals in diets, a standardization of diet, the introduction of fowls and new crops from the Indian Ocean. The increase of the incidence in which remnants of domestic plants occur on sites is not stressed, however, because such remains occur on so few sites overall that to build a trend out of so few cases might be quite artificial.

99. One may well ask whether such complex regional systems also developed concurrently in west-central and equatorial Africa. Far too little archeological research has been conducted there to speculate fruitfully, even in the parts of Gabon, Congo, Cameroun, and Zaire where some research has been conducted.

100. Horton M., “The Swahili Corridor,” Scientific American 25/2 (Feb., 1987), 8693. His full excavation report is in press.

101. G.K. Okello Abungu “Agriculture and Settlement Formation Along the East African Coast;” F.A. Chami “The First Millennium A.D. on the East Coast: A New Look at the Cultural Sequence and Interactions;” Mutoro H.W.Tana Ware and the Settlement Archaeology of the Kenya Coastal Hinterland,” all to be published in Azania 30 (1994), as part of the proceedings of a conference held in July 1994 at Cambridge University on “The Growth of Farming Communities in Africa from the Equator Southwards.” At the conference it was also asserted that this type of ceramics already occurred at Unguja Mkuu (Zanzibar) in the fifth century A.D. See also Wright H.T., “Trade and Politics on the Eastern Littoral of Africa, AD 800-1300,” 659–72; Horton M. and Mudida N., “Exploitation of Marine Resources: Evidence for the Origin of Swahili Communities in East Africa,” 673693; and Abungu G.H.O. and Mutoro H.W.Coast-Interior Settlements and Social Relations in the Kenya Coastal Hinterland,” 694704, all in Shaw, Archaeology.

102. Maggs Tim and Whitelaw G., “A Review of Recent Archaeological Research on Food-Producing Communities in Southern Africa,” JAH 32 (1991), 15 (late eighth century), and G. Whitelaw, communication at the Cambridge conference.

103. Allen J. de Vere, Swahili Origins: Swahili Culture and the Shungwaya Phenomenon (Nairobi, 1993), 2425.

104. Huffman, “Southern Africa,” 673; Denbow, “From Congo to Kalahari,” 166 (Nqoma) and personal communication.

105. E.g., Phillipson D., The Later Prehistory of Eastern and Southern Africa (New York, 1977), 125, 129, 132, 136, 151. Since 1977 cowrie shells have also turned up in Malawi and at new sites in Zambia.

106. Robertshaw P., “Archaeological Survey, Ceramic Analysis, and State Formation in Western Uganda,” AAR 12 (1994), 110. Beads and cowrie shells dating to around the thirteenth century were found at Ntusi, however, and one bead “of uncertain date” stems from Munsa.

107. Bisson M.S., “Trade and Tribute: Archaeological Evidence for the Origin of States in South Central Africa,” Cahiers d'études africaines 87/88 (1982), 349–58, argues, however, for a limited copper trade and the use of copper both for trade and tribute payments. But the existence of tribute payments is only inferred and lacks any substantiation so far.

108. For crops see Watson A.M., Agricultural Innovation in the Early Islamic World: The Diffusion of Crops and Farming Techniques, 700-1100 (Cambridge, 1983). For fowl see McDonald, “Chickens in Africa,” 588. Known early dates for eastern and southern Africa are all around 800-1000, except for chickens at Kwagandaganda, ca. 630.

109. Roberts, History, 55; Fagan B.M. and Phillipson D.W., “Sebanzi: The Iron Age Sequence at Lochinvar and the Tonga,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 95 (1965), 281; Hall, “Changing Past,” 8182.

110. Robertshaw, “Archaeological Survey,” 105–32; Connah G., “The Salt of Bunyoro: Seeking the Origins of an African Kingdom,” Antiquity 65(1991), 479–94; Reid A. and Meredith J., “Houses, Pots, and More Cows: The 1991 Excavation Season at Ntusi,” Nyame Akuma, no. 40(1993), 5861.

111. Robertshaw P., “Recent Archaeological Surveys in Western Uganda,” Nyame Akuma, no. 36 (1991), 4345.

112. Tantala R., “The Early History of Kitara in Western Uganda: Process Models of Religious and Political Change” (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1989).

113. Bisson M.S., “Copper Currency in Central Africa: the Archaeological Evidence,” World Archaeology 6 (1975), 272–92, and, more in depth, de Maret P., “L'évolution monétaire du Shaba central entre le 7e et le 18e siècle,” African Economic History 10 (1981), 117–49.

114. See note 70.

115. See note 70, and Sinclair P., Space, Time and Social Formations Territorial Approach to the Archaeology and Anthropology of Zimbabwe and Mozambique, c. 0-1700 A.D. (Uppsala, 1987), 122–24, for site hierarchy.

116. Denbow, “Congo to Kalahari,” 168–70.

117. Cf. the contributions in Sinclair P.J. and Pwiti G., eds., Urban Origins in Eastern Africa: Proceedings of the 1990 Workshop, Harare and Great Zimbabwe (Stockholm, 1990), or Segobye A.K., “Archaeological Survey and Excavations in Eastern Botswana,” Nyame Akuma, no. 38(1992), 27.

118. Collett D.P, Vines A.E., and Hughes E.C., “The Chronology of the Valley Enclosures: Implications for the Interpretation of Great ZimbabweAAR 10(1992), 139–62, a critique of Huffman Symbols in Stone. For diachronic mapping of Great Zimbabwe see Sinclair Paul J., Pirikayi I., Pwiti G., and Soper R., “Urban Trajectories on the Zimbabwean Plateau” in Shaw, Archaeology, 711–14.

119. The notion was fully developed by Gordon V. Childe. His major works such as The Most Ancient East (London, 1928) (rewritten as New Light on the Most Ancient East [London 1934]) and Man Makes Himself (London, 1936) enjoyed huge popularity among intellectuals in general. They accepted the “neolithic revolution” without so much as a murmur of dissent.

120. Cf. my own presentation in Curtin P. et al., A History of Africa (Boston, 1978), 12. By p. 2, “Once people became sedentary…A history of society and a history of culture now become meaningful.”

121. E.g., Dennell R.W., “The Origins of Crop Agriculture in Europe” in Cowan C.W. and Watson P. J., eds., The Origins of Agriculture: An International Perspective, 71100; cf. 92, “The concept of the “Neolithic” as signifying the appearance of agriculture probably has done more to obscure than to illuminate the nature of the processes involved.” See also other contributions in this volume, and Zvelebil M., “Les chasseurs pêcheurs de la Scandinavie préhistorique,” La recherche 23 (1992), 982–90.

122. Brooks A.S. and Smith C.C., “Ishango Revisited: New Age Determinations and Cultural Interpretations,” AAR 5 (1987), 6578. The relevant dates seem to lie between 20,000 and 30,000 bp.

123. Saxon E. et al., “Results of Recent Investigations at Tamar Hat,” Libyca 22 (1974), 4951; Wendorf F. and Schild R., eds., The Prehistory of Wadi Kubbaniya (Dallas, 1989). Incidentally, this seems to be earlier than comparable developments in the Middle East. By 12,000 B.C. wild barley was harvested on the floodplain of the Nile at Esna. Cf. Phillipson, African Archaeology, 104.

124. Ibid., 112; Devisse, Vallées du Niger, 97 and 96 (illustration).

125. Wendorf F. et al., “Saharan Exploitation of Plants 8,000 Years BP,” Nature 359 (22 October 1992), 721–24.Wetterstrom W., “Foraging and Farming in Egypt: the Transition From Hunting and Gathering to Horticulture in the Nile Valley” in Shaw, Archaeology, 165226, was written before this discovery occurred, as was K. Wasylikowa et al., “Examination of Botanical Elements from Early Neolithic Houses at Nabta Playa, Western Desert, Egypt, with Special Reference to Sorghum Grains” in ibid., 154-64.

126. Muzzolini A.Boeuf,” Encyclopédie berbère 10 (1991), 1547–54; idem., “The Emergence of a Food-Producing Economy in the Sahara” in Shaw, Archaeology, 227-41.

127. For a map on the putative spread thereafter see Breunig P. et al., “Report on Excavations at Gajiganna, Borno State, Northeast Nigeria,” Nyame Akuma no. 40(1993), 37.

128. Muzzolini, “Boeuf”

129. Idem., “L'origine des chèvres et moutons domestiques en Afrique. Reconsidération de la thèse diffusioniste traditionelle,” Empuries 48/50 (1993), 160-71. For a recent overview of animal domestication in general see Clutton-Brock J., “The Spread of Domestic Animals to Africa” in Shaw, Archaeology, 6170 (The title gives the diffusionist argument away) and R. Blench, “Ethnographic and Linguistic Evidence for the Prehistory of African Ruminant Livestock, Horses, and Ponies” in ibid., 71-103. It is worth noting that Clutton-Brock is now more guarded about the issue of diffusion, given the first results of recent DNA studies on cattle from Senegal.

130. McIntosh, “Changing Perceptions,” 169; Harlan J., “Wild-Grass Seed Harvesting in the Sahara and Sub-Sahara of Africa” in Harris D.R., and Hillman G.C., eds., Foraging and Farming: The Evolution of Plant Exploitation (London, 1989), 7996.

131. Munson P.J., “About ‘Economie et société neolithique du Dhar Tichitt (Mauritanie),” Sahara 2 (1989), 106–08; Phillipson, African Archaeology, 129. (This passage does not occur in the first edition).

132. McIntoshChanging Perceptions,” 172–73.

133. Vansina J., Paths in the Rainforests (Madison, 1990), 8392.

134. These conclusions and this model are not new. Cf. Hodgen M.T., Anthropology, History, and Cultural Change (Tucson, 1974), which sums up the comparison of the author's many studies of well-documented innovations and distributions in literate societies with existing models as a case of “Historical Process versus Natural Law” (65-93). But her demonstrations were not heeded.

135. Phillipson, African Archaeology, 130.

136. The debaters about the origins of Pharaonic Egypt and of Egypt's significance for leucoderms and melanoderms alike would do well to remember this. Known inputs into late predynastic Egypt, ca. 3500, involve time depths by then of 2500 years directly, and over 10,000 indirectly, and in areas as remote from each other as the central Sahara, the middle Nile, and Mesopotamia.

137. Controversies over the early dates reflect uneasiness for two reasons: that metallurgy would have been invented independently, and that it did not spread rapidly. But even those who favor late dates cannot avoid the issue completely. Thus Phillipson, African Archaeology, 188, speaks “of the middle of the last millennium B.C.” for the first appearance, and dates the extension to “early in the Christian era,” which allows him to avoid the conclusion that metallurgy was an independent invention here, but it does not address the issue of diffusion. The available dates are set forth by Van Grunderbeek M.C.Chronologie de l'âge du fer ancien au Burundi, au Rwanda et dans la région des Grands Lacs,” Azania 27 (1992), 5380.

138. Clist B., “Synthèse régionale sur l'âge du fer ancien” in Lanfranchi R. and Clist B., eds., Aux origines de l'Afrique centrale (Libreville, 1991), 225.

139. McIntosh, “Changing Perceptions,” 173–77; Devisse, Vallées du Niger, 33n16; Okafor, “New Evidence on Early Iron-Smelting from Southeastern Nigeria” in Shaw, Archaeology, 432–48. On dating see Childs S. Terry and Killick D., “Indigenous African Metallurgy: Nature and Culture,” Annual Review of Anthropology 22 (1993), 320, who hedge by dating all the early sites to “the interval 500-1000 ca. 1 BC but then (ibid., 321) doubt the possibility of independent invention (too difficult) and blithely invoke a reason (old wood) to distrust all dates older than 500 B.C.

140. Connah, Three Thousand Years, 146–47.

141. For archeology see, for instance, Phillipson, African Archaeology, 123, and, more blatantly, Cornevin, Archéologie africaine, 17-33, which jumps from a tale of biological evolution straight to ca. 9000 B.C. In historical textbooks and works of reference the practice is general, except for Curtin et al., African History. For a recent example see Oliver R., The African Experience (London, 1991), 126.

142. One should remember that natural evolution occurs in discrete quantum jumps and not along a changing continuum. Although we do not exactly know what the last jump to full humanity entailed, the capacity to symbolize and the language instinct are certainly involved.

143. Phillipson, African Archaeology, 100. This concludes a paragraph summarizing results derived from mitochondrial DNA. Note his unwarranted leap from a biological category to a cultural (post-Acheulian”) one.

144. McIntosh, “Changing Perceptions,” 181; Shinnie P.L. and Kense F., Archaeology of Gonja, Ghana: Excavations at Daboya (Calgary, 1989); Stahl A.B., “Innovation, Diffusion, and Culture Contact: The Holocene Archaeology of Ghana,” Journal of World Prehistory 8 (1994), 51112.

145. E.g., DeCorse C., “Culture contact, Continuity, and Change on the Gold Coast, AD 1400-1900,” AAR 10 (1988), 163–96. For an instance of dramatic change see Mgungundlovu, Dingane's capital, and especially its military barracks. Parkington J.E. and Cronin M., “The Size and Layout of Mgungundlovu, 1829-1838,” South African Archaeological Society: Goodwin Series, 3 (1979), 133–48.

146. McIntosh, “Changing Perceptions,” 172–73.

147. Agorsah E. Kofi, “Ethnoarchaeology: The Search for a Self-Corrective Approach to the Study of Past Human Behaviour,” AAR 8(1990), 189208, sidesteps the whole question.

148. Cf Bassani E., Un Cappucino nell'Africa nera del seicento: I disegni dei Manoscritti Araldi del Padre Giovanni Antonio Cavazzi da Montecuccolo (Milan, 1987), which presents drawings executed from sketches made in Angola before 1667. For hoes see drawing #20, and #52 for a recent specimen. Cavazzi also drew a woman hoeing her field as an illustration in his Istorica descrizione de tre Regni Congo, Matamba e Angola (Bologna, 1687).

149. Vansina, Paths in the Rainforests, 1116.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

History in Africa
  • ISSN: 0361-5413
  • EISSN: 1558-2744
  • URL: /core/journals/history-in-africa
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 152 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 159 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 21st October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.