African Archaeological Review

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 111–145

New research on the Holocene settlement and environment of the Chad Basin in Nigeria

  • Peter Breunig
  • Katharina Neumann
  • Wim Van Neer
Articles

Abstract

Recent investigations of three archaeological sites in the Nigerian part of the Chad Basin during the Holocene reveal key stages in the cultural development and environmental history of that region. At Dufuna, a dugout boat was dated to around 6000 BC, making it the oldest known boat in Africa and one of the oldest in the world. Boats may thus have contributed to the mobility of the population of the southern edge of the Sahara 8000 years ago and, thereby, to the cultural homogeneity of this period. The pottery site at Konduga is around a thousand years younger than Dufuna but still belongs to the time of Mega-Chad. The site is on the Bama Ridge, an old shoreline. Its pottery, decorated in the Saharan tradition, belongs to the earliest ceramic phase of the West African Later Stone Age, long before the beginnings of food production. Although this site was probably settled by pioneers advancing into a largely flooded landscape along the slightly raised shoreline, the human occupation of the area previously covered by Mega-Chad began along a broad front around 2000 BC. Archaeological and palaeoecological finds from two settlement mounds at Gajiganna are described as case studies for this phase, which predates the well-known site of Daima.

Key words

Nigeria Holocene Later Stone Age paleoenvironment paleoeconomy 

Résumé

Les résultats présentés proviennent de recherches récentes sur trois sites archéologiques, dont chacun représente un épisode clé du développement culturel et de l'histoire environnementale du Bassin nigérian du Tchad au cours de l'Holocène. A Dufuna, la découverte d'une pirogue monoxyle, datée d'environ 6000 ans BC, constitue le témoignage le plus ancien d'une embarcation en Afrique et l'un des plus ancien dans le monde. Ce moyen de transport indique la mobilité des populations de la marge sud du Sahara à l'Holocène inférieur et moyen; ce qui a dû contribuer à l'homogénéité culturelle de cette période. Le site à poterie de Konduga est le plus jeune d'un millénaire que Dufuna, mais appartient à l'époque du Méga-Tchad. Le site est installé sur une ancienne ligne de rivage, la Bama Ridge. Sa poterie, décorée selon la tradition saharienne, appartient à la plus ancienne phase à céramique du Later Stone Age ouest-africain, bien avant le début d'une production alimentaire. Vu que ce site ne devait étre occupé que par des pionniers aventurés dans un paysage largement amphibie à la faveur d'un mince cordon émergé, la colonisation de l'espace antérieurement couvert par le Méga-Tchad, débute le long d'un large front vers 2000 ans BC.Les trouvailles archéologiques et paléoécologiques de deux tertres anthropiques à Gajiganna sont décrites commes études de cas illustrant cette phase, qui précède celle du célèbre site de Daima.

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Breunig
    • 1
  • Katharina Neumann
    • 1
  • Wim Van Neer
    • 2
  1. 1.Seminar für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, Archäologie und Archäobotanik AfrikasUniversität FrankfurtFrankfurt am MainGermany
  2. 2.IUAP 28-“Interdisciplinary Archaeology”Royal Museum of Central AfricaTervurenBelgium

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