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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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A. Haour, V. Winton, O.A. Idé, H. Rendell & M. Clarke

The Projet SAHEL 2004: an archaeological sequence in the Parc W, Niger

Journal of African Archaeology, Vol. 4 (2), 2007, pages 299-315, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-10077

Abstract
Projet SAHEL, a multidisciplinary project, was initiated to investigate longterm patterns of human occupation in the environmentally sensitive and archaeologically under-researched Sahel. This paper outlines an initial field survey carried out in this context in December 2004, in the Mékrou Valley, Parc W, Niger. This pilot study incorporated specialists in Palaeolithic and historic archaeology, and aimed to refine our understanding of the chronology and nature of the occupation of this area, an occupation already known from earlier work by other researchers to have been extensive. On the Palaeolithic front, Projet SAHEL carried out sampling aimed at as-sessing the potential for OSL dating of the Pleistocene sediments lining the Mékrou Valley — dating remains the major unknown in this sequence — and explored questions linked with raw materials procurement and the pattern of Pleistocene landscape use. On the historical front, Projet SAHEL carried out the first systematic collection of ceramic material, and obtained dates on an iron-working episode which allowed the cross-checking of radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence dating and extends the known time-depth of iron-working in the area.

Résumé
Le projet SAHEL, un projet multidisciplinaire, a été établi dans le but d'explorer les fluctuations sur le long terme de l'occupation humaine du Sahel, zone peu connue du point de vue archéologique et susceptible aux variations climatiques. Le présent article décrit une étude-pilote conduite dans le contexte du projet dans la Vallée de la Mékrou, Parc W, Niger, en décembre 2004. Cette étude-pilote incorporait une des expertises en archéologie paléolithique et historique, et visait à cerner la question de la nature et la chronologie de l'occupation de cette zone, occupation que l'on savait déjà avoir été étendue. Sur le front paléolithique, the Projet SAHEL a entrepris des échantillonnages dans le but de déterminer le potentiel de la datation par luminescence stimulée optiquement des sédiments d'âge pléistocène qui bordent la Mékrou: cette question de l'âge reste la grande inconnue dans cette séquence. L'équipe a également exploré des questions liées au procurement des matières premières et à la dynamique de l'utilisation du terrain à l'époque Pléistocène. Sur le front historique, les Projet SAHEL a entrepris la première collecte systématique de materiel céramique et a obtenu une datation sur un fourneau de fonte du fer qui ont permis la comparaison de deux techniques — carbone 14 et luminescence stimulée optiquement — et démontré une ancienneté jusque-là non documentée pour le travail du fer dans la région.




Keywords: iron-working, Niger, Palaeolithic, Parc W, Sahel


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Shadreck Chirikure, South Africa
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Robert Vernet, France
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