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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. 3 (1) 2005

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R. Castelli, M. Cremaschi, M.C. Gatto, M. Liverani & L. Mori

A preliminary report of excavations in Fewet, Libyan Sahara

Journal of African Archaeology, Vol. 3 (1), 2005, pages 69-102, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-10038

Abstract
In 1997, the "Joint Italian-Libyan Archaeological Mission in the Akakus and Messak (Libyan Sahara)", presently directed by Savino di Lernia, started a program of historical archaeology aimed at recovering remains of the Garamantian period, ca 800 BC to 350 AD. One of the selected sites is Fewet, a small but well nucleated oasis some 10 km SW of Ghat. After a first sounding in 2001, part of the settlement was excavated in 2002-2003, and the adjacent necropolis was surveyed in 2003. The excavated settlement is a rounded compound, with a perimeter wall of stones and mud bricks and a series of small dwelling units, with partition walls in mud bricks, around a central empty space and a communal well. One half of the compound is well preserved, with smashed pottery and remains of carbonized seeds and basketry on the sandy floors. The site is radiocarbon dated to the 2nd-1st centuries BC. The necropolis, including ca 1000 tumuli (but the survey is not yet complete) extends over the entire course of Garamantian history, about one millennium or more, and the typological development - from conical to drum-shaped tumuli - is confirmed by the associated pottery from Final Pastoral to Post-Garamantian times. The site of Fewet provides a good example of a small rural settlement at the SW border of the Garamantian kingdom, and the entire research project (geology and palaeo-environmental studies, archaeological excavation and survey) helps to figure out the life and the material culture in a small Saharan oasis of the proto-historical period.

Résumé
En 1997, la «Mission archéologique commune Italo-Libyenne dans l'Acacus et le Messak (Sahara libyen)», actuellement sous la direction de Savino di Lernia, a lancé un programme d'archéologie historique centré sur la période des Garamantes, 800 avant J.-C. - 350 après J.C. L'un des sites sélectionnés pour la fouille est Fewet, une petite oasis bien délimitée située à 10 km. au sud-ouest de Ghat. Après un premier sondage en 2001, une partie du site a été fouillé en 2002-2003, et la nécropole adjacente a été étudiée en 2003. La partie fouillée du site est un «compound» rond, avec un mur d'enceinte fait de pierres et de briques crues et une série de petites unités d'habitation, séparées par des murs de briques, disposée autour d'un espace central ouvert et d'un puits communal. Une bonne moitié du «compound» est bien conservée avec des pots écrasés, des restes de grains carbonisés et de corbeilles sur les sols sableux. Le «compound» remonte (d'après des datations radio-carbones) aux IIe - Ier siècles avant J.-C. La nécropole, avec plus d'un millier de tumulus (et la reconnaissance n'est pas achevée), recouvre l'ensemble de la période des Garamantes, à peu près un millénaire. L'évolution de la typologie des tombeaux (de la simple coupole au grand tambour) est confirmée par la poterie associée (du Pastoral final jusqu'à la période post-garamantique). Le site de Fewet nous offre l'exemple d'une petite communauté rurale à la limite sud-ouest du royaume des Garamantes, et le projet dans son ensemble (géologie et études paléo-environnementales, fouille archéologique et prospections) contribue à restituer la vie et la culture matérielle dans une petite oasis saharienne dans la période proto-historique.




Keywords: Garamantes, Libyan Sahara, necropolis, oasis, pottery, settlement


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