WORLD ARCHAEOLOGY AT THE PITT RIVERS MUSEUM
‘Although a considerable amount of systematic archaeological work has beenaccomplished in Algeria, Egypt, Kenya and south Africa, the stone age of thecontinent as a whole has not been historically and culturally explained’ (Hambly 1935: 379).
Given these factors, this chapter will rst provide a chronological and geographical
overview (8.2), before turning to more detailed discussions on a regional basis: West Africa (8.3), Eastern Africa (8.4), Southern/Central Africa (8.5) and North/NE Africa (8.6, with offshore islands included as appropriate). In these regional sections,
the broad archaeological signicance of the material will be reviewed alongside the
historiographic insights the collections provide regarding the collectors and theircontribution to the development of the discipline on the African continent. Theresearch potential of each area is summarized in section 8.7, and brief conclusionsare drawn in section 8.8.
8.2 Chronological and Geographical Overview
Without detailed assessment of individual collections and artefacts it is not possibleto offer precise information about the periods of later African prehistory and history represented in the PRM collections. However, it is clear that they span many differenttime periods: from initial phases of plant and animal domestication and the adoptionof metallurgy, to the emergence of complex states and kingdoms and subsequentengagement with European colonialism. In broad terms, therefore, taken togetherthe collections span the period from at least 4000 BCE to the early 20th century CE.One consequence of temporal uncertainty and acquisition method is that until suchtime as a detailed assessment can be undertaken the numbers of ‘archaeological’objects noted below remain approximate. While the temporal detail is more limited, quite precise information about thegeographical origins of the material is available. This is summarized in
. A few general points can be made. First, it might be expected given the longerhistory of colonial rule in southern Africa and the creation of settler societies therethat those collections would predominate. However, it is material from ‘SouthernRhodesia’ (i.e. Zimbabwe) that dominates numerically, rather than from the Republicof South Africa, which has a much longer record of professional, and even lay,archaeological activity (see Deacon 1990; Hall 1990). This contrasts with the patternfor ‘Stone Age’ material from the continent (see Chapter 2). A further contrast withthe pattern for ‘Stone Age’ material is the very low proportion of material from eitherKenya or Uganda, whereas material from both of these territories, and especially Kenya, feature prominently in the African ‘Stone Age’ collections largely as a resultof the activities of Louis Leakey and E.J. Wayland, respectively (see Chapter 3).
8.3 West Africa
The later archaeological material from West Africa is relatively limited, bothnumerically and geographically. It comprises
674 objects (97 ‘conrmed’, 577
‘possible’) from seven countries: Cape Verde, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, SierraLeone and Togo. The geographical spread and size of the collection is enhancedslightly by the inclusion of ‘probable’ material – much of which, to judge largely from database descriptions and some direct examination, is probably ‘archaeological’in nature.
Cite this paper as: Paul Lane 2013. Later Holocene Africa.In Dan Hicks and Alice Stevenson (eds) World Archaeology at the Pitt Rivers Museum: a characterization. Oxford: Archaeopress, pp. 122-168.For further details on the book, and to order a copy, see http://www.prm.ox.ac.uk/world.htmlCopyright © Pitt Rivers Museum, Archaeopress, editors and individual authors 2013.The Pitt Rivers Museum’s database can be accessed through the museum’s website at http://www.prm.ox.ac.uk.Research enquiries about the collections should be addressed to:Head of Collections, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org