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Welcome to African Archaeology!

The Journal of African Archaeology is an international peer-reviewed periodical appearing half-yearly since 2003. It publishes original papers addressing recent research and developments in African archaeology and related disciplines. The journal's main purpose is to provide scholars and students with a new pan-African forum for discussing relevant topics on the cultural dynamics of past African societies.

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Vol. 6 (1) 2008

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C. Newton, S. Thiébault, I. Thiam el-Hadji, X. Gutherz, J. Lesur & D. Sordoillet

Fuel and vegetation at Asa Koma (Republic of Djibouti) during the second millennium BC

Journal of African Archaeology, Volume 6 (1), 2008, pages 87-102, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-10104

Abstract
Charcoal analyses were performed on hearths and ash layers from a seasonally occupied Neolithic dwelling site in the eastern lowlands of the Horn of Africa, dated to the first half of the second millennium BC. It was suggested by an earlier study that the predominance of two taxa, Suaeda (seablite)/Chenopodiaceae and Salvadora persica (saltbush), could be an over-representation due to the selection of wood for specialized use, i.e. fish processing. In this study, we show that this can be ruled out, and that the characteristics of the charcoal spectra can be explained in terms of past vegetation composition. We suggest that arid steppe plant formations prevailed, from which most of the fauna was hunted, and that the nearby water channel was not active all year round.

Résumé
L'étude anthracologique a porté sur des foyers et couches cendreuses d'un habitat néolithique saisonnier localisé dans une région de basse altitude d'Afrique de l'Est et daté de la première moitié du deuxième millénaire avant notre ère. Les résultats d'une première étude avaient suggéré que la prédominance de deux taxons, Suaeda (soude)/Chenopodiaceae et Salvadora persica (arak) pouvait signifier leur sur-représentation due à une collecte spécialisée du bois, par exemple pour le traitement des poissons pêchés dans le lac Abhé. Dans cette étude, nous montrons que cette hypothèse peut être écartée et que les caractéristiques des spectres anthracologiques peuvent être expliquées en termes de composition passée de la végétation locale. Nous suggérons que la végétation de la région était dominée par des formations végétales steppiques arides où la majeure partie de la faune était chassée et que le cours d'eau proche du site n'était pas actif toute l'année.




Keywords: anthracology, archaeobotany, fuel, Lowland East Africa, Neolithic, palaeoenvironment


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