Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 253–265 | Cite as

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

Original Article


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 



We thank our reviewers for their constructive comments on this text. The Arts and Humanities Research Council funded the first author’s PhD research at University College London, with additional fieldwork assistance from the Institute of Archaeology Awards, University College London Graduate School, the Central Research Fund of the University of London. Assistance was also provided in Rwanda by the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda (INMR) and the British Institute in Eastern Africa. Andrew Reid supervised the first author’s doctoral research, and the radiocarbon dates were obtained through an AHRC/NERC-ORADS dating grant awarded to A. Reid.

Supplementary material

334_2011_288_MOESM1_ESM.doc (117 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 117 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Global StudiesUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden
  2. 2.Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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