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  Agricultural diversification in West Africa: an archaeobotanical study of the site of Sadia (Dogon Country, Mali)

Champion, L., Fuller, D. Q., Ozainne, S., Huysecom, É., & Mayor, A. (2021). Agricultural diversification in West Africa: an archaeobotanical study of the site of Sadia (Dogon Country, Mali). Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 13(4): 60. doi:10.1007/s12520-021-01293-5.

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 Creators:
Champion, Louis, Author
Fuller, Dorian Q.1, Author              
Ozainne, Sylvain, Author
Huysecom, Éric, Author
Mayor, Anne, Author
Affiliations:
1Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society, ou_2074312              

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Free keywords: Archaeobotany, Agriculture, Food diversification, Fonio, Rice, West Africa
 Abstract: While narratives of the spread of agriculture are central to interpretation of African history, hard evidence of past crops and cultivation practices are still few. This research aims at filling this gap and better understanding the evolution of agriculture and foodways in West Africa. It reports evidence from systematic flotation samples taken at the settlement mounds of Sadia (Mali), dating from 4 phases (phase 0=before first–third century AD; phase 1=mid eighth–tenth c. AD; phase 2=tenth–eleventh c. AD; phase 3=twelfth–late thirteenth c. AD). Flotation of 2200 l of soil provided plant macro-remains from 146 archaeological samples. As on most West African sites, the most dominant plant is pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum). But from the tenth century AD, sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) and African rice (Oryza glaberrima) appear in small quantities, and fonio (Digitaria exilis) and barnyard millet/hungry rice (Echinochloa sp.), sometimes considered weeds rather than staple crops, are found in large quantities. Some samples also show remains of tree fruits from savannah parklands, such as baobab (Adansonia digitata), marula (Sclerocarya birrea), jujube (Ziziphus sp.), shea butter (Vittelaria paradoxa) and African grapes (Lannea microcarpa). Fonio and Echinochloa sp. cultivation appears here to be a later addition that helped to diversify agriculture and buffer against failures that might affect the monoculture of pearl millet. This diversification at the end of the 1st millennium AD matches with other evidence found in West Africa.

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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2021-03-08
 Publication Status: Published online
 Pages: 21
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: Introduction
Archaeological background
- Localisation and current environment
- Chrono-stratigraphy
- Important features
Material and methods
Results
- Description of the main economic taxa at Sadia
-- Pearl millet, Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br., Poaceae
-- Fonio, Digitaria exilis (Kippist.) Staph., Poaceae.
-- Barnyard millet/hungry rice, Echinochloa sp., Poaceae
-- Sorghum, Sorghum bicolor subsp. bicolor (L.) Moench., Poaceae.
-- Cowpea, Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp., Fabaceae
-- Roselle, Hibiscus sabdariffa Lin., Malvaceae
-- Fruits, tree and bushes
-- Weeds and/or wild gathered plants
-- Indeterminate Poaceae species
- Diachronic analysis
-- Phase 0: ‘pre-tell phase’—before first–third century AD
-- Phase 1: mid eighth–tenth c. AD
-- Phase 2: tenth–eleventh c. AD
-- Phase 3: twelfth–late thirteenth c. AD
- Spatial distribution for phase 3
Discussion
- Agricultural practices and food preparation
-- Pearl millet and sorghum
-- Cowpea
-- African rice
-- Weeds and/or gathered seeds
-- Fonio
-- Echinochloa
-- Tree and shrubs
- Sadia and the agricultural diversification of the Dogon Country
- Sadia in its regional context
Conclusion
 Rev. Type: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1007/s12520-021-01293-5
Other: shh2887
 Degree: -

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Title: Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences
  Other : Archaeol Anthropol Sci
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: Berlin [u.a.] : Springer
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 13 (4) Sequence Number: 60 Start / End Page: - Identifier: ISSN: 1866-9557
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/1866-9557