61-80 of 655 Results

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Archaeology of Bénin  

Inga Merkyte

The archaeology of Bénin, despite being a young discipline, presents a history of research and historical circumstances that have shaped the country. Reviewing the highly varied climatic and natural conditions casts light on human adaptation and management of the resources in the past, current preservation conditions, and potential pitfalls for archaeological practice in the country. Yet unresolved issues, such as research anomalies rather than objectively conditioned historical realities, remain. Using information from three “weather stations”—the most substantial archaeological research projects carried out by the international teams in northern, northwestern, and southern Bénin—an attempt of a short yet comprehensive reconstruction of Bénin’s past can be delivered.

Article

Archaeology of Botswana  

Carla Klehm

The prehistory of Botswana concerns the sophisticated environmental knowledge, economic strategies, and social networks of the hunter-gatherer, pastoralists, and agropastoralist communities that have called Botswana home. Diverse subsistence strategies and societal structures ranging from heterarchical to hierarchical have coincided and responded flexibly to climate and environmental variables. Botswana has also played a central, but often overlooked, role in precolonial trade within the interior of Africa and across the Indian Ocean. Botswana contains well-preserved archaeological records for the Middle Stone Age, Late Stone Age, and Iron Age periods, including one of the highest concentrations of rock art in the world at Tsodilo Hills. The prehistory of Botswana extends over 100,000 years and includes successful, innovative, and adaptive occupations in a wide variety of environmental zones, from the Okavango Delta to the Kalahari sandveld, and better-watered hardveld areas in the east. Stone Age peoples adapted to both arid and wet lands, and the archaeological record includes early evidence for freshwater fish exploitation. Hunting with bone points dates to 35,000 years ago, with additional evidence for poisonous, reversible arrowheads between 21,000 and 30,000 years ago. Evidence for ritualized behavior through rock paintings, rock carvings, and the intentional destruction and abandonment of stone tools at Tsodilo Hills provides further insights to the social dimensions of early peoples. In the Iron Age, hunter-gatherer communities and agropastoralists participated in a regional and later protoglobal trade across the Indian Ocean for a thousand years before European involvement; as the regional economy intensified, large polities such as Bosutswe and even kingdoms such as the Butua state emerged, controlling access to resources such as game, ivory, salt, specularite, and gold. In the modern era, the historical archaeology of sites such as Old Palapye (Phalatswe) provide additional insight to historical documents that can contradict Eurocentric understandings of Botswana’s past.

Article

Archaeology of Caves along the East African Coast  

Ceri Shipton and Alison Crowther

Caves in uplifted limestone running from southern Kenya to Zanzibar were occupied by hunter-gatherers since the late Middle Stone Age approximately eighty thousand years ago. At that age they were a novel setting for human occupation away from the savannah landscapes of the East African interior. One of these caves, Panga ya Saidi, has yielded the earliest evidence for the Later Stone Age (LSA) anywhere in Africa, beginning sixty-seven thousand years ago. This cave is one of the only sites in Africa to have repeated human occupation throughout the major climatic fluctuations of the last eighty thousand years, a situation facilitated by its ecotonal and near-coastal setting. The rising sea levels after twenty thousand years ago saw more widespread coastal occupations including of Kuumbi Cave on Zanzibar, which was at that time joined to the mainland. A major transition in the occupation histories of the caves occurs in the late 1st millennium ce, with Iron Age ceramics appearing at many cave sites on the mainland coast and offshore islands, where they become increasingly prevalent into the 2nd millennium. The colonization of offshore islands occurs alongside the first definitive evidence for human occupation in Madagascar, including foragers living in cave sites. On both the mainland and offshore islands a continuing tradition of stone tool manufacture persists with the occasional use of domestic crops and livestock, demonstrating interactions between foraging and early farming communities. Glass beads show the cave occupants became part of Indian Ocean trade networks, likely exchanging forest products with Swahili merchants. Ancient DNA analysis indicates the survival of ancient hunter-gatherer ancestry well into the 2nd millennium ce. In the early 21st century, many of these caves are venerated as places of the ancestors and other spirit beings.

Article

Archaeology of Christianity in Ethiopia and Eritrea  

Tania C. Tribe

Christianity entered Ethiopia via the Kingdom of Aksum in the 4th century ad, within the context of the international trade linking the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean during the 1st to 7th centuries. Adopted by King ‘Ezana and the Aksumite elite, it gradually spread among the general population of the Ethiopian and Eritrean highlands. This social process intensified after the 5th century with the arrival of numerous missionaries from the Roman and Byzantine Empires. Archaeologically, this process is manifested through changes in the form, decoration, and use of objects; for example, crosses began to appear on Aksumite coins and ceramics, were used as pendants, or were inscribed on pre-Christian sites of symbolic and ritual importance. The Christianization process also expressed itself through the adaptation of old temples to the new practices and the appearance of rock-hewn churches, often in a basilica form. Indigenous types of round architecture would also gradually become common practice. During the Middle Ages, Christianization accompanied the emergence of the state and the construction of rulership in large areas of the Ethiopian highlands. Two main Christian dynasties emerged at that time: the Zagwe, based in and around the monumental architectural complex of Lalibäla, comprising eleven rock-hewn structures that all now function as churches; and the Solomonic dynasty, whose first ruler, Yəkunno Amlak, had his family domains on the Wadla plateau, centered around the cave church of Wašša Mika’el. This was located twenty-three miles southeast of Lalibäla, carved into an outcrop of rock in the middle of a broad valley surrounded by low hills and containing friezes of hunting and herding scenes in low relief, suggesting the space had been occupied prior to its conversion to a Christian church, as well as a cycle of religious wall paintings dateable to the 13th century. More distant regions of Ethiopia, such as southern Šäwa and parts of the provinces of Bägemdər and Goǧǧam, were only Christianized as late as the 14th and 15th centuries.

Article

The Archaeology of Christian Missions in Southern Africa  

Chris Wingfield

Archaeological engagements with historic Christian mission stations have increased significantly since the late 1990s, but in joining the established dialogue between historians and anthropologists about mission pasts in southern Africa, the distinctive contribution offered by archaeological approaches has not always been recognized. Interdisciplinary conversations have at times focused on excavation, archaeology’s most distinctive method, and the material evidence this uncovers, without recognizing the distinctive ways of thinking and working that archaeologists have developed to understand the past on the basis of its material traces. Through an engagement with the material world as it exists in the present, archaeologists develop understandings of the past that form the basis of new narratives. This is a form of engagement shared with others, including local and family historians, and on which many people’s engagements with museums and heritage sites are based, including a number of museums and heritage sites based in and around historic mission sites in southern Africa. Engaging the traces and remains of missionary pasts in this way, whether through places, artifacts, images, or texts, has the potential to reveal traces of ways of acting, thinking, and being that were not recognized or understood within the textual sources upon which many early 21st-century understandings of southern Africa’s missionary past have been built. This form of engagement, overlapping as it does with the projects of enthusiasts and nonprofessional scholars, has the potential to generate new stories that can become the basis of new interpretations at heritage sites and museums. As places that were not the exclusive preserve of any single racial or ethnic group, Christian missions have the potential to allow stories to be told that include a range of forms of historical engagement, from displacement and refuge, to slavery and emancipation in the Cape, from collaboration and conflict in the face of expanding colonial frontiers, to tension, negotiation, and compromise between missionaries and African leaders both within, and beyond, formal colonial boundaries. Missionary pasts exemplify histories of racial mixing as well as segregation, and provide a glimpse into the multiple ways in which a range of future-oriented political and religious projects were imagined and manifested, but also frequently failed. Christian missions are boundary objects, with the potential to constitute borderlands where a range of academic disciplines, but also nonacademic projects, can come together to develop new ways of making sense of the past in as yet undetermined and potentially transformative ways. In an expansive and globally comparative mode, the archaeology of Christian missions has the potential to illuminate some of the ways in which Christianity itself has been remade in southern Africa, but also remade as southern African, since the early 19th century.

Article

Archaeology of Colonial Settlement at the Cape  

Antonia Malan

Colonial settlement at the southern tip of Africa was pre-dated by 150 years of occasional encounters with European mariners. They touched on the coast to refresh water barrels, barter for meat with the local pastoralists, and repair their crafts, or in some cases found themselves wrecked and desperate on the shores of the “Cape of Storms.” It became the “Cape of Good Hope” after fleets of European ships profiteered from the sea route to the resources of India and Asia, among them the Portuguese, Dutch, French, and British. The formal date for permanent foreign occupation of the Cape is 1652, when a Dutch East India Company (VOC, the Company) force anchored in Table Bay and, with some basic tools, materials, and supplies, set up camp. After the decline and bankruptcy of the VOC in the late 18th century, a brief military occupation by the British (1795–1802), and an interim Dutch (“Batavian”) administration (1803–1806), the Cape became a British colony. By 1820 the Cape Colony stretched northward as far as the Orange River, and eastward to the Fish and Tugela rivers. Colonial settlement expanded with the arrival of traders, pastoralists, missionaries, and emigrants and created volatile zones in which settlers and African hunter-gatherers, pastoralists, and farmers contested with one another over land and resources. The colonial project continued into the later 19th century, spurred by the discovery of gold and diamonds far inland where independent Boer republics and Griqua states had been established. British imperialism and the lure of mineral wealth led to wars of annexation. Following the Second South African (“Anglo-Boer”) War (1899–1902) and subsequent attempts to reunify the country, in 1910 the “Union of South Africa” became a self-governing dominion within the British Empire, gaining formal independence in 1934. Thus, colonial settlement at the Cape covers a 250-year period and a vast area (roughly equivalent to the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape Provinces, and parts of North West Province). From an archaeological perspective, studies encompass the city of Cape Town and sites fanning out from there chronologically and spatially, such as grazing grounds, military outposts, the towns and villages of the coast and hinterland, arable and pastoral farms, sites of conflict and interaction, missions, and mines.

Article

Archaeology of Early Pastoralism in East Africa  

Peter Robertshaw

The first East African pastoralists arrived at the shores of Lake Turkana soon after the end of the African Humid Period, about 5,000 years ago. In the preceding millennia of the Holocene, fishing economies characterized East Africa. The domestic animals of the early pastoralists were not indigenous to East Africa, nor did they spread through the region simultaneously. Early pastoralist archaeological sites around Lake Turkana comprise settlements and remarkable monumental cemeteries. The expansion of pastoralists further south through East Africa was a two-stage process, probably because of the challenges posed by the presence of diseases fatal to livestock. First, caprines spread south and appear to have been integrated into existing forager subsistence systems. Then, starting toward the end of the 2nd millennium bce, specialized pastoralism began to be established across central and southern Kenya and into northern Tanzania. While analysis of lipid residues on potsherds has demonstrated that these Pastoral Neolithic (PN) peoples milked their animals, the question of whether agriculture was also practiced remains unresolved. Analyses of ancient DNA have shown there were at least two episodes of demic diffusion associated with the spread and establishment of the PN in East Africa. Considerable diversity is present in the PN, with three distinct cultures generally recognized across East Africa south of Lake Turkana. Moreover, there is even greater diversity observed in the decoration and shapes of ceramics. However, this cultural diversity is not matched by human genetic diversity, at least among the analyzed skeletons from two of the three cultures—the Elmenteitan and the Savanna Pastoral Neolithic.

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Archaeology of Farming Communities in Mpumalanga Province and the Adjacent Lowveld in Northeastern South Africa  

Alex Schoeman

Farming Communities have lived in northeastern South Africa since the 4th century ad. Archaeologists use pottery style and radiocarbon dates in their reconstructions of the temporal and spatial distribution of these farming community settlements in the Lowveld, on the Great Escarpment and on the Central Plateau. Early Farming Community sites tend to be restricted to the Lowveld and river valleys, while Middle and Late Farming Community sites are distributed more widely. Early Farming Communities lived in scattered homesteads until the development of chiefdoms toward the end of the first millennium. Chiefly settlements comprised larger, aggregated sites. After the 16th century, larger-scale aggregation started, resulting in extensive, dense settlements such as the stonewalled Bokoni towns. Food production and procurement ranged from small household-scale practices to specialized hunting and intensive farming. Salt and metal extraction and production also were important components in the regional economy. The initial production of salt was household based, but Middle Farming Communities developed this into a specialized industry. Metal production was not industrialized and, while the scale of metal production increased through time, production took place at a household level. Since the early 10th century ad, these local enterprises intersected with international trade systems, thereby linking the interior of South Africa into international trade networks. These indigenous networks, however, were disrupted and at times intentionally disarticulated when European colonial powers extended their control over southern Africa.

Article

The Archaeology of Gender in Sub-Saharan Africa  

Lyn Wadley

The meaning and context of gender is contested even in the 21st century. No generalizations about gender are applicable through time or across space. Even where gender roles are defined by particular cultural norms, they are not static, and an individual may pass through several gendered social transformations in a lifetime. Sub-Saharan African rites of passage into adulthood are sometimes marked by gender-specific physical mutilations such as circumcision, dental modification or scarification, together with other forms of symbolic marking that invariably adopt a binary gender system as the norm. The initiations are largely designed to instruct initiates about behavior appropriate for men and women of reproductive age belonging to a specific community. Some aspects of initiation rites may be detected archaeologically through skeletal alterations, rock art motifs, and props such as scarified dolls. Concepts of gender are also connected to the last rite of passage: burial. Through this, people gain access to the ancestral world. In some parts of Africa such as Mali, men and women are buried with the artifacts they owned in life, while in Ethiopia, stelae mark the gender of the deceased. Elsewhere, as in the Stone Age of southern Africa, gender-undifferentiated grave goods are placed with men, women, and children, suggesting a genderless ancestral world. Gender roles can be identified in some archaeological sites in parts of Africa, and these roles sometimes appear to have altered through time. Gender roles changed with environmental shifts, and certain tasks such as big-game hunting disappeared as a result. In other cases, gender roles were revised because of social pressures imposed on specific communities.

Article

Archaeology of Madagascar  

Sean Hixon

Off the east coast of Africa lies the “Great Red Island” of Madagascar, with a history that has left the island rich in superlatives: It is Earth’s oldest island and among the hottest of the biodiversity hotspots. Definitive European accounts of the island extend over five hundred years into the past, but our knowledge of the island’s human history extends further via the archaeological record. Basic questions on the earliest human settlement of the island remain unresolved. However, archaeological traces of how people subsisted on endemic taxa in the island’s diverse environments are relatively clear, and traces of introduced plants and animals reflect connections across the Indian Ocean. How past people thrived on the island is closely tied with century-old environmental history narratives regarding extinction and deforestation, which remain relevant during ongoing attempts to conserve the island’s biological and cultural diversity. Durable elements of the archaeological record also reflect past resource extraction, connections with far-reaching trade networks, and the rise of an empire that ruled much of the island by the late 19th century. Though the Portuguese captain Diogo Dias visited Madagascar in 1500, the island’s recent history stands out due to its limited period of colonial control (French: 1895–1960). The fantastical stories of Madagascar’s man-eating trees and elephant-hunting birds no longer capture the Western imagination, yet the island’s diverse cultural heritage and human-environment interactions draw the attention of researchers and the curious public both within Madagascar and abroad.

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Archaeology of Senegambia  

Sirio Canós-Donnay

The Senegambia is the area located between the rivers Senegal and Gambia, as well as its surrounding regions, including the countries of Senegal, the Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau. The earliest documented references to the archaeology of the Senegambia date from the mid-19th century, in the form of short mentions in colonial reports and generalist scholarly journals. In the 1930s through the 1940s, the creation of research institutions facilitated the gradual professionalization of the discipline; and since independence, the quantity of researchers has both increased and diversified, as they use a range of approaches and period foci. Since the onset of the 21st century, the Stone Age has been a fast-developing area of study, ranging from the first evidence of hominin or human occupation 250 kya, to the development of pottery and animal domestication. Increasing social complexity, as well as technical developments, are a hallmark of the subsequent Iron Age, whose archaeology initially focused on the emergence of kingdoms and towns and has subsequently broadened to encompass also a wider range of societies at the margins of centralized polities. From the 15th century onward, the opening to the Atlantic world, together with the rise of the transatlantic slave trade, brought new dynamics across the region. As a result, much of the archaeology of this period has focused on trade (particularly the impact of the slave trade), new Afro-European settlements and sociopolitical change. Finally, although the archaeology of colonial and postcolonial remains is still incipient, it has received some coverage, particularly through ethno-archaeological studies, although the extent varies from country to country.

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Archaeology of the Kerma Culture  

Sarah Schrader and Stuart Tyson Smith

Kerma was a Bronze Age culture (c. 2500–1500 bce) located in what is today Sudan and southern Egypt. It is one of the earliest complex societies in Africa and, at its height, rivaled Ancient Egypt. The ancient Kerma culture spans the Pre-Kerma, examining the settlements and cemeteries of this ancient culture during the Pre-Kerma (3500–2500 bce, included here as a precursor to the Kerma civilization), Early Kerma, Middle Kerma, Classic Kerma, and Recent Kerma periods. Much of what is known comes from the capital city and type site, Kerma. However, other urban centers such as Sai, as well as hinterland communities, are also discussed. An archaeological approach is crucial to the examination of Kerma’s past because an indigenous writing system had not yet been developed. Interaction with Egypt is discussed, but only as it relates to Kerma’s historical context. Chronological changes to craft production, religious practices, domestic spaces, and funerary rituals are framed by larger sociopolitical and socioeconomic issues, including inequality, political authority, and economic development.

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Archaeology of the Last Two Thousand Years in Namibia  

John Kinahan

The introduction and spread of food production in Namibia during the last two thousand years was subject to patchy and unpredictable rainfall. Rainfed cultivation of millet by Bantu-speaking farming communities was limited to the far northern region, but seminomadic cattle husbandry was better adapted to this environment. Hunter-gatherer groups in Namibia seem to have been assimilated rather than displaced by farming communities, and the expansion of Khoe-speaking pastoralists into southern Namibia was accompanied by a widespread transition to food production among hunter-gatherers. In the last two millennia, hunter-gatherers, pastoralists, and farmers in Namibia have formed part of a complex precolonial economy which also incorporated locally developed techniques for the processing and storage of wild plant foods.

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Archaeology of the Past Two Thousand Years in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa  

Gavin Whitelaw and Aron D. Mazel

Hunter-gatherers were the sole occupants of the southern African landscape for many thousands of years. Khoe-speaking pastoralists and then Bantu-speaking farmers entered the subcontinent around two thousand years ago. They introduced different lifeways, belief systems, and technologies. Archaeological evidence from KwaZulu-Natal reveals interaction between farmers and hunter-gatherers in this region from the time of first contact to the 1800s ad. There may also have been an ephemeral pastoralist presence in western KwaZulu-Natal around two thousand years ago. During the 1st millennium ad in the Thukela basin, hunter-gatherers appear to have focused their lives on the wooded central basin that Early Iron Age farmers favored for settlement. Interaction between the two groups seems to have centered on men and been built around hunting. The Blackburn ceramic facies at the beginning of the 2nd millennium marks the first settlement of Nguni-speaking farmers in KwaZulu-Natal. The material cultural signature of Early Iron Age farmers disappeared and relations between hunter-gatherers and farmers shifted as some Blackburn farmers took hunter-gatherer women into homestead life as wives. A renewed hunter-gatherer focus on rock shelters in the Drakensberg coincided with the settling of upland grasslands by farmers in the 14th century. From the 16th century, the region slowly integrated into global networks and then experienced colonization in the 19th century. These processes had implications for both farmers and hunter-gatherers. They contributed to the emergence of large polities in the northeast of the region and, ultimately, the elimination of hunter-gatherer lifeways.

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The Archaeology of the Swahili World  

Stephanie Wynne-Jones

The east African coast and its offshore islands are home to the Swahili cultural tradition. This is a fascinating and long-lived urban tradition that has been synonymous with this coast for nearly two millennia. Archaeologically, Swahili culture is most visible in the remains of a series of stonetowns, which contain houses, mosques, and tombs built of coral and lime. These sites were once cosmopolitan centers of trade and an important part of the medieval Islamic world. They are also the culmination of a long period of urban development, starting with villages built of wattle and daub founded on the coast from around the 7th century ce, which were key players in international trade circuits. The Swahili world is thus associated with a diverse and changing culture, united through oceanic connections and with a range of relationships with interior regions of Africa. The archaeology of these settlements reveals a developmental trajectory that continues directly to the stonetowns of the contemporary coast and islands.

Article

Archaeozoology: Methods  

Veerle Linseele

Archaeozoology is the study of animal remains, mainly bones and other hard parts, from archaeological sites. It contributes to a more complete understanding of various aspects of human life in the past. Ideally, archaeozoologists, like other specialists, should be involved in the entire process of an archaeological research project, from its design, to fieldwork and data collecting, to final reporting and publication. For efficient communication and fruitful collaboration, the archaeologists involved in this process need to understand the basics of archaeozoological methodology and the range of questions that the discipline can answer. Methods vary among archaeozoologists—not least with regard to quantification—and it is important to be aware of these differences and their possible impact on results when comparing data for different sites. While the actual analysis of animal remains is done by the archaeozoologists, preferably in circumstances where they have access to a comparative collection of recent animal skeletons, the excavation and collection of remains is often the responsibility of the archaeologists. Animal remains are affected by a host of taphonomic processes of loss that are beyond our control. To avoid additional loss of information at the fieldwork stage, appropriate methods are particularly important. The use of sieves with a mesh size no greater than 2 mm is essential in order not to miss the smaller, but no less informative, animal remains. Project leaders play an important role in providing good storage facilities for archaeozoological remains after excavation and after study. With the rapid development in analytical methods, it can be extremely interesting to return to previously studied remains and sample them.

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Archival and Digital Sources on Unfree Labor in Northern Nigeria  

Mohammed Bashir Salau

Unfree labor in Northern Nigeria is a subject of interest to an increasing number of scholars. The National Archives Kaduna (NAK) and other repositories in Northern Nigeria and elsewhere hold many records that are useful for the study of several forms of unfree labor that occurred within the present-day borders of Northern Nigeria. The history of these records is long, but most of the written records were produced in the period after 1800. The written materials are mainly in Arabic and English. Unlike the written records, the oral sources are mainly in the Hausa language and the collection of such oral information is related to the post-1960s efforts by scholars led primarily by Paul E. Lovejoy. Lovejoy also initiated the digitization of archival materials and oral sources related to unfree labor in Northern Nigeria in the early 2000s. The digitization effort is still ongoing. Scholars who have drawn on the available archival and digital material have focused on the theme of slavery in the precolonial era. Such scholars addressed several topics including plantation agriculture, military slavery, slave control, slave resistance, the ending of slavery, and the wages of slavery. Apart from the works on slavery that mainly focus on the 19th century, there are relatively few other works on the topic that have primarily dealt with the early colonial era or with the period between 1903 and 1936. While the history of slavery has attracted the most critical attention, the history of corvée and convict labor in Northern Nigeria has largely been neglected. Indeed, to date, only two works mainly deal with convict and corvée labor. Considering the little attention given to the themes of convict labor and corvée labor, there is clearly more room for additional historical works on these subjects than on the topic of slavery.

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Archives and Historical Sources for Tanzania  

Paul Bjerk

Although Tanzania’s traditions of bureaucratic government, from the Omani sultanate of Zanzibar to the postcolonial government of Julius Nyerere, produced voluminous documentation, Tanzania’s state archives face the challenges of those in many African countries. Despite efforts to preserve documents in dedicated archives, maintaining high quality conditions for these holdings has been a low priority for the government until recently, and anxieties about the release of sensitive governmental material have left much of the postcolonial archive lingering in ministries and party offices under uncertain conditions. For the historian this means that research in Tanzanian history must consider a notional “grand archive” that consists of material spread across dozens of archival collections in Tanzania and around the world. The constitutive parts of this archive provide complementary collections and perspectives and remind the researcher of the need to consider not only an archive’s contents but the archive as an institution.

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Archives and History in The Gambia  

Bala Saho

The Gambian archives, established in the 1960s, have rich and valuable resources for deeper study and teaching of the history of The Gambia and the subregion. The collections are representative of a substantial amount of The Gambia’s precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial history on a range of subjects, including settlement patterns, migration, family histories, folktales, myths, legends, proverbs, songs, religion, early colonial trading in The Gambia, histories of the ethnic groups and their cultural ceremonies, history of individuals, nationalists politicians, postcolonial political parties, and World War II. Although these sources can be valuable to students, international researchers, and specialists, there is a great need for their care and maintenance.

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Asante Queen Mothers in Ghana  

Beverly J. Stoeltje

The queen mothers of Asante are linked together with chiefs in a dual-gender system of leadership. The symbol of authority and leadership in Asante is a stool (like a throne in England). Throughout the polities of Asante, each queen mother occupies her own stool, and each chief occupies his own stool, representing the authority of chieftaincy in a town or a paramountcy. This political model shapes Asante like a pyramid: queen mothers and chiefs of towns and villages at the base, paramount queen mothers and chiefs at the next level with authority over those of towns and villages, and the king of Asante, the Asantehene, and the queen mother of Asante, the Asantehemaa, at the top ruling over all of Asante. The king of Asante occupies the Golden Stool, the symbol of the Asante nation, which holds the souls of the Asante people according to popular belief. Although the position of queen mother has survived challenges, the relative salience of specific features of her authority has varied. Colonialism ignored queen mothers, and yet Yaa Asantewaa led a war and became a symbol of Asante identity. When the global women’s movement provided inspiration, queen mothers joined together to reclaim their authority.