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An archaeological exploration in southern Borno

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Abstract

For much of the African continent archaeological fieldwork is still at an exploratory stage. There must be a great difference between the known archaeological evidence, on which we base our hypotheses, and the evidence that remains to be discovered. There must, in addition, be a veritable gulf between the archaeological evidence we have and the prehistoric human behaviour that we seek to understand. The following paper discusses recent field work in southern Borno in the light of these ideas. This fieldwork aimed to test an hypothesis about human exploitation of the area before 3000 bp but succeeded instead in revealing a substantial number of later sites in a part of an area already previously investigated by the writer. So far as earlier sites are concerned, this new fieldwork suggests that future archaeological exploration should be concentrated on the northern end of the Mandara Mountains and on the deposits at their base. The overall lesson of this fieldwork, however, seems to be that the harder you look, the more you find—although you may not find what you are looking for.

Résumé

Presque partout en Afrique, le travail archéologique sur le terrain n'en est qu'au stade exploratoire. Il y a sans doute un grand écart entre les données archéologiques connues sur lesquelles se fondent nos hypothèses, et les faits qu'il reste à découvrir. De plus, il existe vraisemblablement un veritable gouffre entre les données archéologiques que nous possédons et le comportement humain préhistorique que nous cherchons à comprendre. Le présent article discute les recherches récentes au sud du Borno en tenant compte de ces idées. Ces travaux visaient la mise à l'essai d'une hypothèse portant sur l'exploitation humaine de la région avant 3000 ans bp mais en vint plutôt à révéler un nombre considérable de sites plus tardifs dans une aire déjà étudiée par l'auteur dans la même région. Quant aux sites de date plus éloignée, les nouveaux travaux sur le terrain suggèrent que l'exploration archéologique devrait dorénavant se concentrer sur l'extrémité nord des montagnes Mandara et sur les dépôts à leurs pieds. Il en ressort surtout, cependant, que plus on cherche, plus on découvre, bien qu'on ne trouve pas toujours ce que l'on cherchait.

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Connah, G. An archaeological exploration in southern Borno. Afr Archaeol Rev 2, 153–171 (1984). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01117230

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Keywords

  • Human Behaviour
  • Avant
  • Field Work
  • Cultural Study
  • Human Exploitation