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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. 10 (1) 2012

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S. Soriano & E. Huysecom

Lithic Industry as an Indicator of Ceramic Diffusion in the Early Neolithic of West Africa: A Case Study at Ounjougou

Journal of African Archaeology, Volume 10 (1), 2012, pages 85-101, DOI 10.3213/2191-5784-10212

Abstract
Ounjougou (Dogon Country, Mali) is now known for the discovery there of pottery dating to the first half of the 10th millennium cal BC, which is among the earliest evidence of the use of ceramics in Africa. While our understanding of early African ceramics is becoming well developed, certain other evidence associated with the first manifestations of the African Neolithic are still poorly understood, including notably the lithic industries. On the basis of technological and typological analyses of the lithic assemblage associated with the Ounjougou pottery, we will show that these materials also express profound behavioral changes within cultural groups of this period, and indeed they help clarify processes for the spread of ceramics. For these reasons lithics are extremely important for understanding this period of great cultural change and should not be neglected.
Technological and typological data collected during the analysis have been used to propose an original taphonomic approach and to test in this way the coherence of the assemblage.
Comparisons with Early Holocene industries in the Saharan zone (Temet, Tagalagal, Adrar Bous 10, etc.) provide new elements of consideration regarding the cultural context of the appearance of pottery, and enable us to propose a scenario for the adoption of technological innovations marking the beginning of the Holocene, from sub-Saharan West Africa toward the central Sahara. The lithic industries are seen as a valuable means of clarifying the cultural context and processes of the appearance and spread of pottery in this region from the first half of the 10th millennium cal BC to the middle of the 9th millennium cal BC.

Résumé
Ounjougou (Pays dogon, Mali) est désormais connu pour avoir livré de la céramique datée de la première moitié du 10e millénaire BC cal, ce qui est en fait l’un des plus anciens témoignages de l’utilisation de la poterie en Afrique. Les industries lithiques associées aux premières manifestations du Néolithique africain sont encore mal connues. A partir de l’étude technologique et typologique de l’assemblage lithique associé à la céramique d’Ounjougou nous montrerons que ces matériaux expriment aussi les mutations comportementales profondes qui affectent les groupes humains à cette période, jusqu’à éclairer les modalités de diffusion de la céramique, et qu’ils ne peuvent donc être négligés.
Les données techniques et typologiques recueillies lors de l’étude ont été mobilisées pour proposer d’abord une approche taphonomique originale et tester ainsi la cohérence de l’assemblage.
Les comparaisons effectuées avec les industries de l’Holocène ancien dans la zone saharienne (Temet, Tagalagal, Adrar Bous 10…) nous livrent de nouveaux éléments de réflexion sur le contexte culturel de l’apparition de la céramique et nous permettent de proposer un scénario pour l’adoption des innovations techniques marquant le début de l’Holocène, depuis l’Afrique de l’Ouest sub-saharienne en direction du Sahara central. Les industries lithiques apparaissent comme un bon proxy pour préciser le contexte culturel et les modalités de l’apparition et de la diffusion de la céramique dans cette région de la première moitié du 10e millénaire BC cal au milieu du 9e millénaire BC cal.




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