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The Archaeology and Ethnography of Central Africa


  • Author: James Denbow, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
  • Date Published: January 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107040700

£ 75.99

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About the Authors
  • The Archaeology and Ethnography of Central Africa provides the first detailed description of the prehistory of the Loango coast of west-central Africa over the course of more than 3000 years. The archaeological data presented in this volume comes from a pivotal area through which, as linguistic and historical reconstructions have long indicated, Bantu-speaking peoples expanded before reaching eastern and southern Africa. Despite its historical importance, the prehistory of the Atlantic coastal regions of west-central Africa has until now remained almost unknown. James Denbow offers an imaginative approach to this subject, integrating the scientific side of fieldwork with the interplay of history, ethnography, politics, economics, and personalities. The resulting 'anthropology of archaeology' highlights the connections between past and present, change and modernity, in one of the most inaccessible and poorly known regions of west-central and southern Africa.

    • Presents the detailed scientific results of the only large-scale archaeological study conducted on the coast of west-central Africa
    • Highlights the issue of the threat to Africa's cultural resources posed by the increasing pace of development in a continent with few practical or legal structures to protect its heritage
    • A unique aspect of the book is the way in which it combines personal and ethnographic detail to contextualize and historicize archaeological fieldwork
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… the almost total lack of prior archaeological work in the Tong hills, and the relative lack of such research across much of northern Ghana, makes this an important contribution to regional history …' Peter Mitchell, Antiquity

    'There is much to like about this book: it provides information on a little known area and a brief discussion of larger regional connections, and the personal narratives provide a good description of the processes of fieldwork in Congo, sometimes on a shoestring.' Scott MacEachern, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2014
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107040700
    • length: 241 pages
    • dimensions: 262 x 183 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.71kg
    • contains: 79 b/w illus. 10 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Behind the scenes of research
    2. Pride and prejudice: big oil, eucalyptus, and the people without history
    3. Natural and cultural environment
    4. Preservation: heritage and reconnaissance
    5. Ceramic later Stone Age excavations
    6. The early Iron Age
    7. Later Iron Age sites and the historic period
    8. Opening Pandora's box: from Loango to the Okavango
    9. Summation.

  • Author

    James Denbow, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
    James Denbow is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Texas, Austin. In the 1980s he was Senior Curator and Head of the Archaeology Department at the National Museum of Botswana, where he established and ran the Antiquities Program for the Government of Botswana. Between 1987 and 1993 he worked extensively in what is now the Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. His research has been funded by many agencies, including Fulbright, the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, USAID, and the Swedish International Development Authority. He is the author of two books, Cultures and Customs of Botswana and Uncovering Botswana's Past, and has published more than 40 scientific articles in journals, including Science, Current Anthropology, the Journal of Archaeological Science, the Journal of African History, History in Africa, the Journal of American Folklore, the Journal of African Archaeology, the African Archaeological Review, the South African Journal of Science, the South African Archaeological Bulletin, and others. His current research focuses on processes of state formation centered around the prehistoric site of Bosutswe on the eastern fringe of the Kalahari Desert.

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