African Archaeological Review

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 75–104 | Cite as

Ethnoarchaeology in Africa

  • John H. Atherton


After a brief introduction, this paper discusses the various types of ethnoarchaeological sources useful to African prehistorians. These include ‘living archaeology’ or the ethnography of material culture, experimental archaeology in the field, published materials (including ethnographies and travellers' accounts), manuscript materials and museum collections. Discussion of application is centred around three topics: economy, settlement patterns and ethnicity. Several examples are given to show how ethnoarchaeological materials are (and sometimes are not) useful in the reconstruction of prehistoric situations. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of some of the ways in which archaeological, environmental and ethnoarchaeological data can be productively combined; it is suggested that a systems approach is the most appropriate.


System Approach Cultural Study Material Culture Settlement Pattern Museum Collection 
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.


Suivant une brève introduction, le présent article discute des diverses sources ethnoarchéologiques qui servent aux préhistoriens africanistes. Celles-ci comprennent ‘l'archéologie vivante’ ou l'ethnographie de la culture matérielle, l'archéologie expérimentale sur le champs, les publications (y compris les ethnographies et les récits de voyage), les manuscrits et les collections muséales. Trois thèmes ressortent dans la discussion sur l'application à la préhistoire africaine: l'économie, la structure d'établissement et l'appartenance ethnique (ethnicité). En conclusion, une brève discussion de quelques-unes des façons selon lesquelles les données archéologiques, ethnoarchéologiques et du milieu peuvent être mises à bon usage en étant combinées, en vient à suggérer qu'une méthode systématique serait plus appropriée.


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