Advertisement

African Archaeological Review

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 73–104 | Cite as

A reconsideration of the West African macrolithic conundrum: new factory sites and an associated settlement in the Vallée du Serpent, Mali

  • Kevin C. MacDonald
  • P. Allsworth-Jones
Article

Abstract

Within West African prehistory, perhaps no period remains more mysterious than that between the Terminal Pleistocene and the mid-Holocene. This time period is shared by diverse macrolithic and microlithic industries. The macrolithic phenomenon has remained ill-defined, with most occurrences being generally lumped together as a single group, or attributed to earlier time periods. Recent archaeological investigations in the Vallée du Serpent and southern Gourma regions of Mali have revealed Holocene macrolithic assemblages quite different from the well-known bifacial traditions of Cap Manuel and Manianbougou, but not without parallels from elsewhere in the Sahel and Savanna. The most important of the Vallée du Serpent sites is that of Sirakoro-Ancien, where worked stone aggregations are associated with several rings of laterite cobbles believed to be the remnants of structures. Its lithic industry consists of massive flakes, perhaps removed directly from local outcrops, and smaller flakes from prepared cores as well as formal tools. Geomorphological and archaeological evidence suggests an age of the Vallée du Serpent sites somewhere between 9000 and 6000 bp. A new synthesis based upon sites investigated by the authors and the predominantly Francophone literature is presented in order to shed light upon this neglected portion of African prehistory.

Keywords

Early Time Cultural Study Single Group Archaeological Evidence Factory Site 
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

Dans toute la préhistoire de l'Afrique occidentale, aucune période ne reste peut-être plus mystérieuse que celle située entre la fin du Pléistocène et le milieu de l'Holocène. Diverses industries macrolithiques et microlithiques se partagent cette période. Le phénomène macrolithique reste mal défini, la plupart des exemples en sont généralement rassemblés en un seul groupe, ou attribués à des périodes antérieures. Des recherches archéologiques effectuées dans les régions de la vallée du Serpent et du sud du Gourma au Mali ont révélé des collections macrolithiques de l'Holocène bien différentes des traditions bifaciales bien connues de Cap Manuel et Manianbougou, mais non sans parallèles ailleurs dans le Sahel et la Savanne. Le plus important des sites de la vallée du Serpent est celui de SirakoroAncien où des agrégats de pierres travaillées sont associés à plusieurs cercles de galets en latérite que l'on pense être des restes de structures. Cette industrie lithique consiste en éclats massifs, peut-être retirés directement de couches géologiques locales, et en éclats plus petits provenant de nucleus préparés ainsi que des outils. Des preuves géomorphologiques et archéologiques suggèrent que les sites de la vallée du Serpent ont entre 9000 et 6000 ans. Une nouvelle synthèse, fondée sur les sites étudiés par les auteurs et des documents principalement en français, est présentée afin d'éclairer cette partie négligée de la préhistoire africaine.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Adams, A. E., MacKenzie, W. S. and Guilford, C. 1984.Atlas of Sedimentary Rocks Under the Microscope. New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  2. Allsworth-Jones, P. 1986. Middle Stone Age and Middle Palaeolithic: the evidence from Nigeria and Cameroun. InStone Age Prehistory: papers in memory of Charles McBurney (eds. G. N. Bailey and P. Callow): pp. 153–68. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Allsworth-Jones, P. 1987. The earliest human settlement in West Africa and the Sahara.W.A.J.A. 17:87–129.Google Scholar
  4. Andah, B. W. 1978. Excavations at Rim, Upper Volta.W.A.J.A. 8:75–138.Google Scholar
  5. Andah, B. W. and Anozie, F. 1980. Preliminary report on the prehistoric site of Afikpo (Nigeria).W.A.J.A. 10:83–102.Google Scholar
  6. Anozie, F., Chikwendu, V. E. and Umeji, A. C. 1978. Discovery of a major prehistoric site at Ugwuele-Uturu, Okigwe.W.A.J.A. 8:171–6.Google Scholar
  7. Asombang, R. 1991. Age de la Pierre réent: Cameroun. InAux Origines de l'Afrique Centrale (eds. R. Lanfranchi and B. Clist): pp. 98–101. Libreville: Centre Culturel Français.Google Scholar
  8. Balout, L. 1967. Procédés d'analyse et questions de terminologie dans l'etude des ensembles industriels du paléolithique inférieur en Afrique du Nord. InBackground to Evolution in Africa (eds. W. W. Bishop and J. Desmond Clark): pp. 701–35. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  9. Biberson, P., Clark, J. D. and Folster, H. 1968. Review of O. Davies ‘The Quaternary in the Coastlands of Guinea’.West African Archaeological Newsletter 9:20–51.Google Scholar
  10. Camara, A. and Duboscq, B. 1987. Contexte chronostratigraphique des outillages du paléolithique evolué dans l'est du Sénégal.L'A. 91:511–20.Google Scholar
  11. Camps, G. 1968.Amekni: néolithique ancien du Hoggar. Algiers: C.R.A.P.E.Google Scholar
  12. Clarke, D. L. 1978.Analytical Archaeology (2nd Edition). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Connor, D. R. and Marks, A. E. 1986. The terminal Pleistocene on the Nile: the final Nilotic adjustment. InThe End of the Paleolithic in the Old World (ed. L. G. Straus): pp. 171–99. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports.Google Scholar
  14. Coon, C. (ed.) 1968.Yengema Cave Report. Philadelphia: University Museum.Google Scholar
  15. Davies, O. 1961. Sites du paléolithique moyen à Bamako.Notes Africaines 89:5–10.Google Scholar
  16. Davies, O. 1964.The Quaternary in the Coastlands of Guinea. Glasgow: Jackson.Google Scholar
  17. Davies, O. 1967.West Africa Before the Europeans. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  18. Delcroix, R. and Vaufrey, R. 1939. Le Toumbien de Guinée Française.L'A. 49:265–312.Google Scholar
  19. de Bayle des Hermens, R. 1975.Recherches Préhistoriques en République Centrafricaine. Paris: Labethno.Google Scholar
  20. de Maret, P. 1990. Phases and facies in the archaeology of Central Africa. InA History of African Archaeology (ed. P. Robertshaw): pp. 109–34. London: James Currey.Google Scholar
  21. de Maret, P., Clist, B. and Van Neer, W. 1987. Résultats des premières fouilles dans les abris de Shum Laka et d'Abeke au nord-ouest du Cameroun.L'A. 91:559–84.Google Scholar
  22. Descamps, C. 1979.Contribution à la Préhistoire de l'Ouest Sénégalais. Dakar: Université de Dakar.Google Scholar
  23. Descamps, C. and Démoulin, D. 1969. Stratigraphie du gisement préhistorique du Cap Manuel (Dakar).B.I.F.A.N. (Séries A) 31:739–51.Google Scholar
  24. Direction Nationale des Eaux et Forêts, Mali. 1989.Projet Inventaire des Ressources Ligneuses et Occupation Agricole des Terres au Mali, Notice de Cercle: Cercle de Nara (Region de Koulikoro). Bamako: Ministere de l'Environnement et de l'Elevage.Google Scholar
  25. Eggert, M. K. H. 1993. Central Africa and the archaeology of the equatorial rainforest: reflections on some major topics. InThe Archaeology of Africa: food, metals and towns (eds. T. Shaw, P. Sinclair, B. Andah and A. Okpoko): pp. 289–329. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. Furon, R. 1929. L'ancien delta du Niger.Révue de Géographie Physique et de Géologie Dynamique 2:265–74.Google Scholar
  27. Gabel, C. W. 1957. The Campignian tradition and European flint mining.Antiquity 31:90–2.Google Scholar
  28. Greensmith, J. T. 1989.Petrology of the Sedimentary Rocks (7th Edition). London: Unwin Hyman.Google Scholar
  29. Grove, A. T. 1958. The Ancient Erg of Hausaland, and similar formations on the south side of the Sahara.Geographical Journal 124:528–33.Google Scholar
  30. Grove, A. T. 1985. The physical evolution of the river basins. InThe Niger and its Neighbours: environmental history and hydrobiology, human use and health hazards of the major West African rivers (ed. A. T. Grove): pp. 21–60. Rotterdam: Balkema.Google Scholar
  31. Holas, B. 1950. Notes préliminaires sur les fouilles de la grotte de Blandè.B.I.F.A.N. 12:999–1006.Google Scholar
  32. Holas, B. 1952. Note complémentaire sur l'abri sous roche de Blandè (fouille de 1951).B.I.F.A.N. 14:1341–52.Google Scholar
  33. Holas, B. and Mauny, R. 1953. Nouvelles fouilles à l'abri sous roche de Blandè.B.I.F.A.N. 15:1605–17.Google Scholar
  34. Holl, A. 1986.Economie et Société Néolithique du Dhar Tichitt. Mauritanie. Paris: Editions ADPF.Google Scholar
  35. Hugot, G. 1981. Les lacs quaternaires du Sahara méridional: l'exemple de Tichitt (Mauritanie). InPréhistoire Africaine: mélanges offerts au Doyen Lionel Balout (eds. C. Roubet, H. J. Hugot and G. Souville): pp. 263–73. Paris: Editions ADPF.Google Scholar
  36. Jaeger, J. J. 1975. The mammalian faunas and the hominid fossils of the Middle Pleistocene of the Maghreb. InAfter the Australopithecines (eds. K. W. Butzer and G. L. Isaac): pp. 399–418. The Hague: Mouton.Google Scholar
  37. Leakey, L. S. B. and Cole, S. (eds.) 1952.P.A.C.I. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  38. Leakey, L. S. B. and Owen, W. E. 1945.A Contribution to the Study of the Tumbian Culture in East Africa. Nairobi: Coryndon Memorial Museum.Google Scholar
  39. Lezine, A.-M. 1989. Vegetational palaeoenvironments of northwest tropical Africa since 12,000 BP: pollen analysis of continental sedimentary sequences (Sénégal-Mauritania).P.A. 20:187–8.Google Scholar
  40. MacDonald, K. C., MacDonald, R. H., Togola, T. and Capezza, C. in prep. A preliminary report on survey and excavations in the southern Gourma Region, Mali (Spring 1993).N.A. Google Scholar
  41. McIntosh, R. J. 1983. Floodplain geomorphology and human occupation of the upper Inland Delta of the Niger.Geographical Journal 149:182–201.Google Scholar
  42. McIntosh, S. K. and McIntosh, R. J. 1988. From Stone to Metal: new perspectives on the later prehistory of West Africa.Journal of World Prehistory. 2:89–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Marks, A. E. 1968. The Sebilian industry of the Second Cataract. InThe Prehistory of Nubia: Volume I (ed. F. Wendorf): pp. 461–531. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Marliac, A. 1974. Prospection archéologique au Cameroun septentrional.W.A.J.A. 4:83–97.Google Scholar
  45. Marliac, A. 1975.Contribution à l'Etude de la Préhistoire au Cameroun Septentrional. Paris: ORSTOM.Google Scholar
  46. Marliac, A. 1987. Introduction au paléolithique du Cameroun septentrional.L'A. 91:521–58.Google Scholar
  47. Marliac, A. 1991.De la Préhistoire à l'Histoire au Cameroun Septentrional, Livre I: Préhistoire des Peuplements Anciens au Sud du Lac Tchad. Paris: ORSTOM.Google Scholar
  48. Mauny, R. 1955. Contribution à l'étude du Paléolithique de Mauritanie.P.A.C. 2:461–79.Google Scholar
  49. Menghin, O. 1925. Die Tumbakultur am unteren Kongo und der westafrikanische Kulturkreis.Anthropos 20:516–57.Google Scholar
  50. Menghin, O. 1931.Weltgeschichte der Steinzeit. Vienna: Anton Schroll.Google Scholar
  51. Nougier, L. R. 1950.Les Civilisations Campigniennes en Europe Occidental. Le Mans.Google Scholar
  52. O'Brien, T. P. 1939.The Prehistory of Uganda Protectorate. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Olsen, A. B. and Alsaker, S. 1984. Greenstone and diabase utilization in the Stone Age of western Norway: technological and socio-cultural aspects of axe and adze production and distribution.Norwegian Archaeological Review 17:71–103.Google Scholar
  54. Ozanne, P. 1969. The diffusion of smoking in West Africa.Odu 2:29–42.Google Scholar
  55. Pastouret, L., Chamley, H., Delibrias, G., Duplessy, J. C. and Thiede, J. 1978. Late Quaternary climatic changes in western tropical Africa deduced from deep-sea sedimentation off the Niger Delta.Oceanologica Acta 1:217–32.Google Scholar
  56. Petit-Maire, N. and Riser, J. 1987. Holocene palaeohydrography of the Niger.P.A. 18:135–41.Google Scholar
  57. Posnansky, M. 1984. Early agricultural societies in Ghana. InFrom Hunters to Farmers: the causes and consequences of food production in Africa (eds. J. D. Clark and S. Brandt): pp. 147–51. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  58. Pough, F. H. 1983.A Field Guide to the Rocks and Minerals (4th Edition). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  59. Quéchon, G. 1974. Un site protohistorique de Maroua.Cahiers ORSTOM, sér. Sciences Humaines. 11:3–46.Google Scholar
  60. Raimbault, M. and Dembélé, M. 1983. Les ateliers préhistoriques de Manianbougou (Bamako, Mali).B.I.F.A.N. 45:219–76.Google Scholar
  61. Roset, J.-P. 1987. Paleoclimatic and cultural conditions of Neolithic development in the Early Holocene of northern Niger (Air and Ténéré). InPrehistory of Arid North Africa: essays in honor of Fred Wendorf. (ed. A. Close): pp. 211–34. Dallas: SMU.Google Scholar
  62. Shaw, T. 1944. Report on excavations carried out in the cave known as ‘Bosumpra’ at Abefiti, Kwahu, Gold Coast Colony.P.P.S. 10:1–67.Google Scholar
  63. Shaw, T. 1961.Excavation at Dawu. Edinburgh: Nelson.Google Scholar
  64. Shaw, T. 1985. The prehistory of West Africa. InHistory of West Africa, volume 1 (3rd edition). (eds. J. F. A. Ajayi and M. Crowder): pp. 48–86. New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  65. Shaw, T. and Daniels, S. G. H. 1984. Excavations at Iwo Eleru, Ondo State, Nigeria.W.A.J.A. 14:1–269.Google Scholar
  66. Smith, A. B. 1975. Radiocarbon dates from Bosumpra Cave, Abefiti, Ghana.P.P.S. 41:179–82.Google Scholar
  67. Solecki, R. L. 1985. A note on the dating of choppers, chopping tools and related flake tool industries from southwest Asia.Paléorient 11:103–5.Google Scholar
  68. Stahl, A. B. 1985. Reinvestigation of Kintampo 6 rock shelter, Ghana: implications for the nature of culture change.A.A.R. 3:117–50.Google Scholar
  69. Szumowski, G. 1956. Notes sur les haches néolithiques soudanaises,Notes Africaines 72:98–102.Google Scholar
  70. Tricart, J. 1967.Rapport de la Mission Reconnaissance Géomorphologique de la Vallée Moyenne du Niger (janvier–avril 1957). Mémoires de l'Institut Français d'Afrique Noire no. 72. Dakar: IFAN.Google Scholar
  71. Urvoy, Y. 1942.Les Bassins du Niger: étude de géographie physique et de paléogéographie. Mémoires de l'Institut Français d'Afrique Noire No. 4. Paris: Librairie Larose.Google Scholar
  72. Van Noten, F. 1977. Excavations at Matupi Cave.Antiquity 51:35–40.Google Scholar
  73. Vaufrey, R. 1947. Le néolithique para-Toumbien: une civilisation agricole primitive du Soudan.La Revue Scientifique 85:205–32.Google Scholar
  74. Völkel, J. 1989. Formation of dunes and pedogenesis as palaeoclimatic indicators in the eastern part of the Republic of Niger (Sahara and Sahel),P.A. 20:37–54.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Cambridge University Press 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin C. MacDonald
  • P. Allsworth-Jones

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations