Getting Here



 The Fifth International Workshop for African Archaeobotany will be held 2-5 July, 2006
at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. For scheduled papers and absracts select days below.






Institute of


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Monday, 3 July, 2006

Session: Gathered resources: foragers, wood fuels and the environmental impac


Savannas or forests? The environment of human settlements in southern Cameroon during the first millennium BC

Alexa Hohn

JW Goethe University
Frankfurt, Germany

The first millennium BC is of particular importance for the history of human settlement in the rainforest areas of West Central Africa. Based on multiple palaeoclimatic and paleoecological archives, it is assumed that the climate became more arid and that rainforest vegetation declined. The existence of savanna corridors in what is today covered by rainforest is hypothesized. Archaeological sites of this period, mainly in the form of pits, furnish ceramics and iron artefacts. The sites and finds are the legacy of sedentary people, which practiced plant cultivation. Probably savanna people benefited from the drier climate and migrated into West Central Africa along the corridors of open vegetation, introducing the knowledge of plant cultivation and metal processing into this region of Africa.

Did these settlers only occupy regions of predominately open vegetation or did they also intrude into rainforest areas? To answer this question, archaeological charcoals from an area of probable forest refuge in southern Cameroon have been analysed. Charcoal analyses in the rainforests offer their own challenges; however, some conclusions can already be drawn: Most taxa identified so far are either pioneers or shade bearers. People must have collected wood in open spaces around the settlements, where the pioneers could have grown, as well as in forest habitats, where the shade bearers occur. Regional types of forests are reflected in the charcoal assemblages as well. So far no unambiguous savanna vegetation is detectable. Therefore, it is proposed that sedentism and agriculture did not stop at the borders of the rainforests but were introduced into predominantly forested regions like southern Cameroon as well.


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Tuesday 4 July . . . Wednesday, 5 July, 2006 .......


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Last modified: 1/06/06