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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. Deme & S.K. McIntosh

Excavations at Walaldé: new light on the settlement of the Middle Senegal Valley by iron-using peoples

Journal of African Archaeology, Vol. 4 (2), 2007, pages 317-347, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-10078

Abstract
Excavation of the five hectare site of Walaldé revealed an occupation by iron-using agropastoralists that began [800–550] cal BC, and continued until [400–200] cal BC. The earliest occupation phase appears to document a period of transitional iron use, with some worked stone in evidence. Smelting and forging slags and tuyeres are present in considerable quantities in the later phase. Cop-per with the distinctive chemical signature of the Akjoujt mines in Mauritania was also present after 550 cal BC, attesting to trade and interaction over long distances. Other important aspects of the Walaldé sequence include ceramic materials and a series of red ochre burials. Possible cultural affinities with shell midden sites in the Senegal Delta, surface material from the Lac Rkiz region, and pastoralist sites of the 'Boudhida Culture' around Nouakchott are discussed. The article concludes with a consideration of Walaldé's significance to the debate over the origins of iron metallurgy in West Africa.

Résumé
Des fouilles à Walaldé révèlent que ce site, d'une superficie de 5 ha, fut occupé entre 800–550 cal BC  et 400–200 cal BC par des populations agro-pastorales qui utilisaient le fer. La phase d'occupation la plus ancienne semble témoigner d'une période de transition pierre-fer, avec une petite quantité de la pierre taillée associée aux objets en fer. La phase d'occupation suivante est associée à une présence importante de scories et de tuyères issues des activités de réduction, d'affinage et de cinglage. En outre, du cuivre, portant la signature chimique distinctive des mines d'Akjoujt (Mauritanie) est  présent après 550 BC; démontrant des échanges et des interactions de longue distance. La séquence de Walaldé comporte aussi d'autres importants aspects tels que la poterie et plusieurs inhumations saupoudrées d'ocre rouge. Les affinités culturelles entre certains  éléments de la culture matérielle de Walaldé et ceux des amas coquilliers du Delta du Sénégal et des sites pastoraux de la «Culture de Boudhida» aux environs de Nouakchott sont aussi analysés. L'article met en valeur l'importance de Walaldé dans le débat sur l'origine de la métallurgie de fer en Afrique de l'Ouest.




Keywords: agropastoralists, copper, Early Iron Age, red ochre burial, transition to iron


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