In the Shadow of the King:
the Hunter-gatherer, the Livestock Breeder,
the Metallurgist, the Artist, …
Toward the first third of the 4th century AD, in the far north of what is now Ethiopia, King Ezana of Aksum ordered a stone engraved giving thanks to his gods. The stone bore a long bilingual inscription in Greek and Ge’ez in which the king told of the victorious expedition led by his brothers against the Bougaeitai tribe. The Bougaeitai had revolted, but were subdued, following which 4400 of them were brought to the capital, along with their livestock – cattle and sheep – and their draught animals – probably camels and donkeys and for four months sustained upon spelt bread and wine. The king then transferred them to another location, establishing them permanently and endowing each kinglet (basiliskos in Greek, which we are here translating as “chief”) with a much greater number of cattle than had been taken as the spoils of war. We recognise the name of the Bougaeitai; they are the Beja, a nomadic pastoral population that live, now as before, in the lowlands of Sudan and Eritrea. We are not certain whether a population displacement conceived by the king (basileus in Greek) and the plan – which we deduce by implication – of more or less “subsidised” settlement succeeded, but there are grounds to believe that it did not. For many centuries, the Beja remained what they were at the time of the kingdom of Aksum: troublesome nomads on the outskirts of the major political formations dominating the Nile valley and the Horn of Africa, creating sufficiently constant and insidious embarrassment to require the regular dispatch of troops.
To cite this articleFauvelle-Aymar F.-X., 2012 – In the Shadow of the King: the Hunter-gatherer, the Livestock Breeder, the Metallurgist, the Artist, …, in F.-X. Fauvelle-Aymar, Palethnology of Africa, P@lethnology, 4, 5-10.
the Archaeological Investigation of a City of Ancient Eritrea
Following an overview of the chronological context of Eritrean-Ethiopian antiquity, and a brief summary of research on the Pre-Aksumite and Aksumite periods, this article presents the results of the archaeological excavations carried out by the author and the Ethiopian Institute of Archaeology at the site of Matara, in Eritrea. Four residential complexes and two religious edifices, including a basilica, have been discovered; they belonged to the Aksumite phase. Tombs and numerous inscriptions attest to long occupation of the site from the Pre-Aksumite period, the underlying levels having not been investigated.
To cite this articleAnfray Fr., 2012 – Matara:the Archaeological Investigation of a City of Ancient Eritrea, in F.-X. Fauvelle-Aymar, Palethnology of Africa, P@lethnology, 4, 11-48.
The Giant Stelae of Aksum
in the Light of the 1999 Excavations
Excavations were carried out in 1999 on the location of Stela 2 at the ancient site of Aksum in northern Ethiopia. These excavations have permitted the documentation of the foundation of this stela, which was transported to Rome in 1937. Preparations were also made for the stela’s return to the site in 2005 and its re-erection in 2008 at the exact location where it stood in the 3rd or 4th century AD. The excavations also made it possible to re-examine our perception of the three giant stelae on the site, from their conception and erection to their destruction.
To cite this articlePoissonnier B., 2012 – The Giant Stelae of Aksum in the Light of the 1999 Excavations, in F.-X. Fauvelle-Aymar, Palethnology of Africa, P@lethnology, 4, 49-86.
The Superimposed Cemeteries of Tuto Fela
in Gedeo Country (Ethiopia), and Thoughts
on the Site of Chelba-Tutitti
In Gedeo Country, southern Ethiopia, the tumulus of Tuto Fela has yielded two groups of steles, some phallic and some anthropomorphic. The latter belong to a monument formed by the successive addition of the tombs of which they are the markers. The phallic steles, which could have been re-employed for this use, originate from an earlier period of the monument characterized by tombs dug into the substratum. This first period has been dated to between the 11th and the 13th centuries AD. It was possible to verify some of the hypotheses proposed for Tuto Fela through the study of the neighboring site of Chelba Tutitti, which has phallic steles only.
To cite this articleJoussaume R., 2012 – The Superimposed Cemeteries of Tuto Fela in Gedeo Country (Ethiopia), and Thoughts on the Site of Chelba-Tutitti, in F.-X. Fauvelle-Aymar, Palethnology of Africa, P@lethnology, 4, 87-110.
Of Shells and Men:
the Economy of Coastal Populations on the Bay
of Luanda (Angola) Throughout the Last Two Millenia
Nicolas VALDEYRON, Sonia Ludmila DA SILVA DOMINGOS
In this paper, we present archaeological and ethnographic observations of several shell middens located near the Luanda lagoon in Angola, focusing on the evolution of the use of one mollusk, Arca senelis L., over the past two millennia. Known in the literature, the site of Cabolombo has been the subject of recent research (test pit 1) that supports the hypothesis that the site was first occupied by shellfish collectors, probably of the Bantu tradition. The sites of Kamabanga and Kitala suggest the existence of populations, between the 8th and 14th centuries, that were still collectors but who also took part in regional exchange networks. They may also have been specialized in the production of discs from shell test that could have been used as coins during the formative period of the Kingdom of Kongo. Test pits 4 and 14 at Cabolombo yielded indications of a colonial context (locally manufactured pipes) in an economic environment still oriented toward predatory activities. Test pit 9, on the other hand, revealed the use of mabangas as the raw material for lime production, probably under strict control by the Portuguese. Finally, though the major stages in the history of the peopling of the region can be reconstructed through archaeological research and though oral enquiries document the formation processes of the sites, the socio-economic and cultural status of the populations remains unclear.
To cite this articleValdeyron N., da Silva Domingos S. L., 2012 – Of Shells and Men: the Economy of Coastal Populations on the Bay of Luanda (Angola) Throughout the Last Two Millenia, in F.-X. Fauvelle-Aymar, Palethnology of Africa, P@lethnology, 4, 111-140.
Khoekhoe Pastoralists at the Junction
of Historical and Archaeological Sources
Proposed Models for Settlement Pattern and Technological Signature
of a Neolithic Population in Southern Africa
François BON, Laurent BRUXELLES
François-Xavier Fauvelle-Aymar, Karim SADR
The Khoekhoe pastoralist populations of South Africa are well documented in historical sources. Their archaeological remains nonetheless seem to differ very little from those of contemporary hunter-gatherer groups. Based on the discovery of a probable kraal at Kafferskuitje (KFS 5), on the Vredenburg peninsula, and on a geomorphologic study of the alluvial terrace system of the Berg River, we suggest that Khoekhoe groups made selective choices in their settlement on the lower terraces located inside the meanders. If we follow this predictive model, the discovery of the site of Volstruisdrif (VSD) enables us to propose the hypothesis of an archaeological signature based on the diagnostic association of ceramic remains and distinctive lithic productions
To cite this articleBon F., Bruxelles L., Fauvelle-Aymar F.-X., Sadr K., 2012 – Khoekhoe Pastoralists at the Junction of Historical and Archaeological Sources. Proposed Models for Settlement Pattern and Technological Signature of a Neolithic Population in Southern Africa, in F.-X. Fauvelle-Aymar, Palethnology of Africa, P@lethnology, 4, 141-166.
Libyco-Berber Rock Engravings:
From One Shore of the Sahara to the Other
Based on recent observations of Libyco-Berber rock representations (mainly engravings), I propose new elements concerning their nature, chronology and meaning. Current studies, while part of a general inventory, are also involved in the implementation of an analytical approach without which the final corpus is likely to be lacking in eloquence, as are the many representations already identified and published. A number of sites with Libyco-Berber engravings distributed between the great bend of the river Niger and the Maghreb, when considered in the light of the work carried out by the research community, will facilitate solid commitment to this analysis.
To cite this articleBarbaza M., 2012 – Libyco-Berber Rock Engravings: From One Shore of the Sahara to the Other, in F.-X. Fauvelle-Aymar, Palethnology of Africa, P@lethnology, 4, 167-191.
The Beli Valley (Markoye, Burkina Faso):
an Important Siderurgical District
in the Time of the Great Empires
The surveys carried out in the valley of the Beli in the north of Burkina Faso enabled to identify numerous metallurgical sites. The uniqueness and specialisation of the area, together with the intensity and standardisation of the production, seem to characterise a siderurgical district from the late 1st and the early 2nd millennium AD. With the exception of the excavations carried out on the neighbouring sites of Kissi and Oursi, the chronocultural regional contexts are little known and do not yet enable the identification of the actors or sponsors of the metallurgical activity. We identify here the various avenues of investigation provided by the comparison of the different written and oral sources.
To cite this articleFabre J.-M., 2012 – The Beli Valley (Markoye, Burkina Faso): an Important Siderurgical District in the Time of the Great Empires, in F.-X. Fauvelle-Aymar, Palethnology of Africa, P@lethnology, 4, 193-207.
The Role of Ethnohistoric Data in Reconstructing
Ancient Siderurgy in Dogon Country (Mali)
Since 2002, research on paleometallurgy in Dogon Country has revealed an exceptional history of siderurgical activity. More than one hundred smelting sites have been recorded, mapped and studied for the first time. Based on technological, cultural and economic criteria, we have attributed these sites to seven different siderurgical traditions. The existence and cohabitation of such diverse metallurgical remains within a limited geographic area (15000 km2) are very surprising. In this paper, we attempt to interpret this archaeological observation with the aid of ethnohistoric data. Based on this comparison of several sources, we propose a new historic scenario retracing the evolution of the traditional production of iron in Dogon Country.