By Ian Shaw
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Additional info for A Dictionary of Archaeology
Domestication and agriculture. The most important domestic animals in West Africa, and the first to be introduced into the region, are cattle, sheep and goats. The latter are descended from wild Asian progenitors, not the Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia), and have been found as early as 6800 ± 350 BP at Haua Fteah in northeastern Libya. Gautier suggests that domestic cattle may also have been present, but so far there is no evidence of that. Sheep and/or goats have been found in large numbers from 6530 ± 250 BP onwards at CAPÉLETTI in northeastern Algeria, in levels attributed to the ‘Neolithic of Capsian Tradition’, thus forming the basis (in Roubet’s words) of a ‘pastoral pre-agricultural economy’.
McIntosh. 2. Earliest settlement. In northern Chad an AUSTRALOPITHECUS mandible and upper premolar were discovered by a team under the direction of Michel Brunet in 1995–6 at a locality 45 km east of Koro Toro (see AFRICA 1). These finds were associated with apparently undisturbed fauna in a geological context which suggests that this was a lakeside environment. 5 million years ago. The hominid remains were at first compared to A. Afarensis, but are now recognized as a separate species ‘Australopithecus bahrelghazali’.
The low shaft furnaces in use at these sites were of the nonslag-tapping variety, although at Lejja (near Opi) <500 cylindrical blocks at first thought to constitute a ‘bloom bank’ have been shown to consist of slag which was drawn off intermittently into pits. The normal product of these furnaces was low carbon content wrought iron, although on occasions medium carbon content steel and cast iron could be produced. Iron smelting continued to be a vital part of the West African scene until well into the 20th century, when colonial importation of cheap steel, deforestation due to excessive demand for charcoal, and shortage of skilled labour finally put an end to it.
A Dictionary of Archaeology by Ian Shaw