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African Archaeological Review

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 177–195 | Cite as

From clay to metal: culture change and container usage among the Bariba of northern Bénin, West Africa

  • Carolyn F. Sargent
  • David A. Friedel
Article

Abstract

The Bariba are the dominant ethnic group in the culturally heterogeneous northern provinces of the modern state of Bénin. Recent decades have witnessed dramatic changes in some aspects of Bariba material culture, while others have remained more stable. An investigation of change and stability in Bariba material culture, with particular attention to containers, reveals that the dynamics of cultural pluralism, an heterogeneous array of innovative and conservative beliefs and practices, register as much in the material as in the non-material domains of Bariba life. Because containers are ubiquitous in late prehistoric and historical societies, they constitute a key monitor of change for archaeologists. Evaluation of container change in this living culture highlights some of the challenges facing archaeologists working exclusively with material remains.

Keywords

Ethnic Group Recent Decade Cultural Study Culture Change Material Culture 
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

Les Bariba sont le groupe ethnique qui prédomine dans les provinces culturellement hétérogènes du nord de l'état moderne du Bénin. Pendant les dernières décennies certains aspects de la culture matérielle des Bariba ont changé de façon dramatique, tandis que d'autres sont restés plus stables. Une investigation des changements et de la stabilité dans la culture matérielle des Bariba, avec des recherches spéciales concernant les récipients, révèle que les dynamiques du pluralisme culturel—un étalage hétérogène de croyances et de pratiques innovatrices et conservatrices—sont visibles aussi bien dans les domaines matériels de la vie des Bariba que dans les domaines non-matériels. Puisque les récipients se trouvent partout dans les sociétés historiques et de la fin de la préhistoire, ils constituent pour les archéologues un indice-clef de changements. L'évaluation des changements des récipients dans cette culture vivante met en relief certains des problèmes que doivent affronter les archéologues qui travaillent uniquement sur les vestiges matériels.

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Copyright information

© Cambridge University Press 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carolyn F. Sargent
  • David A. Friedel

There are no affiliations available

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