A Dictionary of Archaeology by Ian Shaw

By Ian Shaw

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Smith) and SHUM LAKA. The approximate dates for the introduction of pottery at these three sites are 5210 ± 100, 5570 ± 60, and 3810 ± 60 BP respectively. An earlier date of 6340 ± 250 BP for comb-stamped pottery comes from an open site near Konduga on the Bama ridge southwest of Lake Chad. Nevertheless, the fact that all these dates are significantly later than those in the Sahara, and that some decorative motifs are shared in common, suggests that a mechanism of diffusion (of ideas and techniques if not of people) was at work.

The same is true of Tegdaoust, which has been tentatively identified as the town of Aoudaghost, known to have been destroyed by the Almoravids in AD 1054. The reality of the trans-Saharan trade in raw materials was proved by Monod’s discovery of a ‘ship-wrecked’ camel caravan at Ma’den Ijâfen in the desert of Majâbat al-Koubrâ which had been carrying cowries and <2000 brass rods south. The find was dated to AD 1130 ± 80 on the basis of material from the mats and ropes which had encircled them. It has also been demonstrated at Sintiou Bara, in the form of cowries, glass beads, non-ferrous metals (brass, copper and silver alloys, 19 and tin), and enamelled pottery of a type which is well known in the Maghreb.

With the information available to him in 1975, this was as he said an ‘artefact of the present state of research’, but Gautier’s revised map of 1987 does not differ in its essentials from this, except so far as the Nile valley is concerned. Shaw suggested that the movement would essentially have been in two phases, at first to take up the grazing grounds in the Sahara before 5000 BP, and then to move out of them as dessication set in after 4500 BP (when the southward movement of the tsetse fly along with the ITCZ would have opened up hitherto closed areas).

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