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Dhar Nema: from early agriculture to metallurgy in southeastern Mauritania

MacDonald, KC; Vernet, R; Martinon-Torres, M; Fuller, DQ; (2009) Dhar Nema: from early agriculture to metallurgy in southeastern Mauritania. AZANIA , 44 (1) 3 - 48. 10.1080/00671990902811330.

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Abstract

Dhar Nema, easternmost of the Tichitt escarpment chain, was neglected by archaeologists throughout the twentieth century. However, since 2000, two separate archaeological teams have conducted survey and test excavation work in the region. This article presents the final research results of one of these teams. Two sites in particular are closely examined: the settlement mound of Djiganyai with stratified intermittent occupation between c. 2000 and 800 cal. BC, and the multi-component site of Bou Khzama II, featuring structural elements, inhumations, and large scale iron-smelting remains. It is argued that Dhar Nema, although an ecologically favourable zone, was politically peripheral to the central Tichitt-Walata polity and comparatively sparsely settled. A period of relative regional abandonment, or widespread shifts in settlement, between 1400 and 1100 cal. BC is also noted. Regardless, a range of Pre-Tichitt and Tichitt Tradition settlements are documented for the region, including evidence for millet agriculture equivalent in age to that of the Dhar Tichitt region. It is suggested that the origins of Tichitt agriculture must now be sought in the third millennium BC. Concerning more recent periods, putative new data for first millennium BC iron metallurgy in the Dhar Nema region are presented and their technical aspects analysed. Finally, a revised hypothesis for the role of incoming Berber populations in the denouement of the Tichitt Tradition is considered, with cultural syncretism rather than replacement advocated.

Type: Article
Title: Dhar Nema: from early agriculture to metallurgy in southeastern Mauritania
DOI: 10.1080/00671990902811330
Keywords: Tichitt Tradition, Dhar Nema, millet domestication, iron metallurgy
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1318833
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