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African Archaeological Review

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 115–143 | Cite as

An Ancient and Common Tradition: Funerary Rituals and Society in Equatorial Guinea (First–Twelfth Centuries ad)

  • Alfredo González-Ruibal
  • Manuel Sánchez-Elipe
  • Carlos Otero-Vilariño
Original Article

Abstract

In this article, we present the results of the 2011 field season at the Iron Age burial site of Nandá, on the Island of Corisco, located between Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. The excavations followed a survey conducted in 2009, which evinced the extraordinary interest of the site and suggested its funerary nature. The excavations documented three levels of occupation belonging to two different phases, which are known in the region as Oveng (ad 1–600) and Group II (ad 600–1100). The first phase was characterized by secondary burials with rich metallic offerings, which were sealed by a settlement at the end of the period; the second phase witnessed the establishment of a large burial site with primary interments. Similar burials are known from Cameroon and Gabon, but the number of features identified at Nandá and the funerary sequence are quite unique in the region. Here, the evidence will be interpreted in light of Jan Vansina’s theories, where he postulates a common political tradition in Equatorial Africa from which later developments stem.

Keywords

Burials Funerary rituals Social organization Early Iron Age Central Africa Equatorial Guinea Gabon Bantu Jan Vansina 

Resumée

Dans cet article on présente les résultats des fouilles archéologiques de 2011 dans le site de l’Age du Fer de Nandá, à l’Île de Corisco, situé entre Guinée Equatorial et Gabon. La fouille suit une prospection menée en 2009, qui a montré l’intérêt extraordinaire du site et suggéré sa nature funéraire. Les fouilles ont permis de documenter trois niveaux d’occupation appartenant à deux phases différentes, qui peuvent être identifiées avec la tradition Oveng (1–600 Ap. J-C) et le Groupe II (600–1100 Ap. J-C). La première phase est caractérisé par sépultures secondaires avec de nombreux offrandes en fer, qui sont succédées par un village a la fin de la période; pendant la deuxième phase apparaît un grand site d’enterrement avec des sépultures primaires dans le même endroit. Des sépultures pareilles sont connues au Cameroun et au Gabon pendant le première millennaire de notre Ere, mais la quantité de structures localisées à Nandá et la séquence funéraire est assez unique dans la région. Ici, les données sont interprétées par rapport aux théories de Jan Vansina, qui défends l’existence d’une tradition politique commune à l’Afrique Equatoriale, d’où viennent tout les développements postérieurs.

Notes

Acknowledgments

This project was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Culture (Projects of Archaeology Abroad) and the Spanish Cooperation Agency for Development (AECID). We would like to thank our colleagues Xurxo Ayán, Gabriel Engonga, Sonia García, Agustín Ndong, Rafael Ntutum, Llorenç Picornell, and Yolanda Porto, who collaborated in the fieldwork. Bernard Clist helped with important clarifications and Hugues Doutrelepont with the identification of endocarps. Bienvenu Gouem Gouem granted us access to his doctoral dissertation. We thank Pastor Fábrega for assistance in the production of the maps. We are grateful to the Minister of Information of Equatorial Guinea, Jerónimo Osa Osa, for giving permission to conduct our research. Special thanks are due to Pedro Aróstegui (Spanish Consul in Bata), Mª. Ángeles Díaz Ojeda (Director of the Spanish Cultural Center in Bata), Carlos Contreras (Director of the Spanish Cultural Center in Malabo), and Manuel Gómez de Acebo (Spanish Ambassador in Equatorial Guinea) for their support. We would like to thank two anonymous referees whose valuable comments helped to improve the article.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfredo González-Ruibal
    • 1
  • Manuel Sánchez-Elipe
    • 2
  • Carlos Otero-Vilariño
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Heritage Sciences (Incipit)Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)Santiago de CompostelaSpain
  2. 2.Department of PrehistoryComplutense University of MadridMadridSpain

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