Original Article

Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 253-265

First online:

First and second millennium a.d. agriculture in Rwanda: archaeobotanical finds and radiocarbon dates from seven sites

  • John D. GiblinAffiliated withSchool of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg
  • , Dorian Q. FullerAffiliated withInstitute of Archaeology, University College London Email author 

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This article presents the results from a programme of bulk soil sampling and flotation of first and second millennium a.d. early farming, ‘Iron Age’, archaeological sites in Rwanda conducted in 2006–2007 alongside a new set of associated radiocarbon dates, which contribute toward the development of a chronology of plant use for the region. This research has identified the earliest examples of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum), finger millet (Eleusine coracana) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) in Great Lakes Africa and thus this article also discusses the significance of these finds within the later archaeology of the region and presents a brief synthesis of the direct archaeological evidence for finger millet in sub-Saharan Africa.


Palaeoethnobotany Eleusine coracana Sorghum bicolor Pennisetum glaucum Bantu Urewe