African Archaeological Review

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 13–63 | Cite as

The Ethnoarchaeology and Field Archaeology of Grinding at Sukur, Adamawa State, Nigeria

  • Nicholas David


A typology of artificial rock hollows and tentative identification of their functions is founded upon study of recent practices at Sukur. Five stages of development of equipment for grinding grain are identified and shown, using field archaeological evidence, to constitute a sequence of historical phases that extends from the Neolithic or early Iron Age to the present. The development of other types of hollows is related to this sequence. Ethnographic data are employed to estimate the use lives of grain grinding hollows, which are interpreted in terms of woman-centered familial grain-grinding units. The evidence suggests that prior to ca. AD 1600 the population density averaged two orders of magnitude less than in recent times—with important implications for regional culture history. This exploratory study demonstrates the potential of artificial hollows as evidence for the study of prehistory, culture and demographic history, and the history of landscape in Africa and beyond.

grinding ethnoarchaeology field archaeology Mandara Sukur Iron Age 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas David
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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