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Diversification, intensification, and specialization. Changing land use in western Africa from 1800 BC to AD 1500

Kay, AU; Fuller, D; Neumann, K; Eichhorn, B; Hohn, A; Morin-Rivat, J; Champion, L; ... Kaplan, JO; + view all (2019) Diversification, intensification, and specialization. Changing land use in western Africa from 1800 BC to AD 1500. Journal of World Prehistory , 32 (2) pp. 179-228. 10.1007/s10963-019-09131-2. Green open access

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Abstract

Many societal and environmental changes occurred between the 2nd millennium BC and the middle of the 2nd millennium AD in western Africa. Key amongst these were changes in land use due to the spread and development of agricultural strategies, which may have had widespread consequences for the climate, hydrology, biodiversity, and ecosystem services of the region. Quantification of these land-use influences and potential feedbacks between human and natural systems is controversial, however, in part because the archaeological and historical record is highly fragmented in time and space. To improve our understanding of how humans contributed to the development of African landscapes, we developed an atlas of land-use practices in western Africa for nine time-windows over the period 1800 BC–AD 1500. The maps are based on a broad synthesis of archaeological, archaeobotanical, archaeozoological, historical, linguistic, genetic, and ethnographic data, and present land use in 12 basic categories. The main differences between categories is the relative reliance on, and variety of, domesticated plant and animal species utilized, and the energy invested in cultivating or keeping them. The maps highlight the irregular and frequently non-linear trajectory of land-use change in the prehistory of western Africa. Representing an original attempt to produce rigorous spatial synthesis from diverse sources, the atlas will be useful for a range of studies of human–environment interactions in the past, and highlight major spatial and temporal gaps in data that may guide future field studies.

Type: Article
Title: Diversification, intensification, and specialization. Changing land use in western Africa from 1800 BC to AD 1500
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s10963-019-09131-2
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10963-019-09131-2
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright information © The Author(s) 2019 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10070423
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