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African Archaeological Review

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 97–116 | Cite as

Holocene vegetation of the Eastern Sahara: charcoal from prehistoric sites

  • Katharina Neumann
Article

Abstract

This paper is dedicated to Prof. Dr K. U. Leistikow on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

The investigation of 320 charcoal samples from prehistoric sites in the Eastern Sahara furnishes evidence for a fundamental change of vegetation during the early and middle Holocene. Two ecological regions can be distinguished. In Egypt desert formations prevailed, consisting of the same vegetation elements as today though with a wider distribution, while in the Sudan tropical savannas occurred. Around 7000 bp the Sahelian vegetation zones were 500–600 km north of their present range, and 300–400 km around 5700 bp. The Sudanian flora of Fachi-Dogonboulo in Niger, datedca 7000 bp, points to a simultaneous shift of the vegetation zones in the Eastern and in the Central Sahara. With increasing desiccation from 5200 bp onwards, the savanna formations retreated to the south until their present position was reached by 3300 bp.

Keywords

Charcoal 60th Birthday Present Position Fundamental Change Vegetation Zone 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Résumé

L'étude de 320 échantillons de charbons de bois provenants de sites préhistoriques du Sahara Oriental, met en évidence un changement important dans la végétation au cours de l'Holocène ancien et moyen. Deux régions écologiques peuvent être distinguées: en Egypte les formations désertiques étaient prédominantes, comprenant les mêmes éléments qu'aujourd'hui mais avec une plus large extension. A la même époche le Soudan connaissait une végétation de savanes tropicales. Autour de 7000 ans bp, la zone de végétation sahélienne se situait à 500–600 km plus au nord de sa limite actuelle, et vers 5700 ans bp elle était encore à 300–400 km. La flore soudanienne de Fachi-Dogonboulo, Niger, datée de 7000 ans bp, indique un déplacement simultané des zones de végétation au Sahara Oriental et Central. Sous l'effet d'un assèchement croissant à partir de 5200 ans bp, les formations de savane se sont retirées vers le sud, jusqu'à atteindre leur situation actuelle vers 3300 ans bp.

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© Cambridge University Press 1989

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  • Katharina Neumann

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