Archaeological investigation of long-term culture change in the Lower Falemme (Upper Senegal region), A.D. 500-1900
McIntosh, Susan Keech
Doctor of Philosophy
This thesis is based on six-months of archaeological field research in the upper Senegal/Lower Falemme region aimed at reconstructing patterns of social and economic change during the past 1500 years. The target area was a 50 kilometer-segment of the lower Falemme river that was directly opened into an important ancient gold trading zone. This area is economically marginal today but had important links to both the trans-Saharan and Atlantic systems over the past thousand years, offering great potential for the study of the changes triggered by incorporation into wider economic networks. The main objectives of the research were to recover data on change in subsistence, trade and technology to provide preliminary direct empirical evidence on processes of change over the 1500 years. Archaeological excavations carried out at three sites and regional survey permitted recovery of local and imported artifacts, paleoeconomic data and information on context and chronology. The data accumulated suggests the incorporation into the trans-Saharan international trade beginning AD 700 of small-scale societies with a subsistence economy dominated by agriculture, herding and occasional hunting. Significant changes were noted beginning in the fifteenth century, which corresponds to a period of increased contact with the Europeans and the expansion of Islam. These changes are reflected in the growth of imports and important changes in the nature and location of archaeological sites. While the region was incorporated into the wider Atlantic market economy, African initiatives were a key component of system until the imposition of colonial government in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Anthropology; Archaeology; Cultural anthropology