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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. 4 (2) 2006

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M.K.H. Eggert, A. Höhn, S. Kahlheber, C. Meister, K. Neumann & A. Schweizer

Pits, graves and grains: archaeological and archaeobotanical research in southern Cameroun

Journal of African Archaeology, Vol. 4 (2), 2007, pages 273-298, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-10076

Abstract
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 re-trieved 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.

Résumé
Depuis 2003 une unité mixte de recherche des universités de Francfort et de Tübingen (Allemagne) explore les relations entre l'environnement et les cultures préhistoriques dans les savanes et les forêts de l'Afrique de l'ouest et centrale. Cet article présente les premiers résultats archéologiques et archéobotaniques qui proviennent de trois campagnes de recherche dans la forêt tropicale du Sud-Cameroun. Des fouilles ont été réalisées à Bwambé-Sommet près de Kribi au bord de l'Atlantique. En outre, des sites situés à l'intérieur de la forêt dans les environs d'Ambam (Akonétye, Minyin et Abang Minko'o) ont également été fouillés. Tous ces sites sont caractérisés par des fosses qui renferment surtout de la céramique. A Akonétye, nous avons trouvé deux tombes contenant de la poterie et des objets en fer. Si l'on considère les dates radiocarbones et la poterie, elles semblent être les plus anciennes tombes comprenant des objets en fer connues à ce jour en Afrique centrale. Nous avons découvert un abondant matériel archéobotanique dans les structures fouillées (de charbon de bois, des fruits et graines carbonisés, des échantillons de phytolithes et d'amidon). La découverte de petit mil (Pennisetum glaucum) à Bwambé-Sommet et Abang Minko'o dans des contextes archéologiques datés à environ 2200 bp réclame une grande importance. Les résultats obtenus par l'analyse de charbon de bois et de la palynologie indiquent que tous les anciens sites étaient situés dans une forêt dense qui était perturbée et en partie substituée par des formations de plantes pionnières.




Keywords: burials, Central Africa, food production, iron objects, pearl millet, rain forest


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David W. Phillipson, UK
Gilbert Pwiti, Zimbabwe
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Robert Vernet, France
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