Niger : The Azawagh valley (The Niger Sahara)

Omowale Jabali

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The Azawagh is an ancient tributary of the Niger River close to 1600km long, which was known first as Timersoï, Azawagh then Dallol Bosso (fig.1). Drawing on the Aïr, the Hoggar and the Adrar des Ifoghas, it is an area of transition between the Sahara, the Sahel and northern Sudan. It is a favourite location for contact and trade, the archaeological value of which has long been known (Le Rumeur, 1933). Five multidisciplinary missions (1979-1990) have described 90 archaeological and geological sites there (Durand et al., 1999). Hence :


According to calculations, the presence of humans in this region dates back to 7532-6855 B.C. on a site caracterised by a large number of Ounan points, microliths and armatures (Tamaya Mellet, fig.1) ; the oldest ceramics date back to 6469-6186 B.C., using an organic temper with long fibres from absorbent plants (fig.4). The Neolithic period, in the true sense of the term, has not been demonstrated to have existed until 5000 B.C. (Maga, 1993). Particular attention has been paid to sepulchres, the evolution of which appears to have followed changes in population movements (Paris, 1996).

http://journal3.net/spip.php?article234
 

Omowale Jabali

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This article reports over 250 new radiocarbon dates relevant to recent archaeological research in West Africa. Thanks to the continuing trend towards series of dates from either single sites or groups of related sites, some major blanks on the archaeological map of West Africa have been replaced by well-dated regional sequences. An example is the Malian Sahara, where palaeoenvironmental and archaeological investigations at a large number of sites have clarified the relationship between Holocene climatic change and Late Stone Age occupation. Other areas that were largely archaeological unknowns until the research reported in this article was undertaken include the middle Senegal valley, the Inland Niger Delta, and the Bassar region in Togo. Other research included here reinterprets previously studied, ‘classic’ Late Stone Age sequences, such as Adrar Bous, Kintampo and Tichitt. There are also new dates and details for early copper in Niger and Mauritania which prompt a reconsideration of the true nature of this proposed ‘Copper Age’. Of particular significance to general reconstructions of West African prehistory is the documentation of regional and long-distance trade accompanying the emergence of complex societies along the Middle Senegal and Middle Niger in the first millennium A.D.

http://journals.cambridge.org/actio...FA7BECB69.tomcat1?fromPage=online&aid=2809680
 

Omowale Jabali

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The Azawad has historically referred to the dry river valley, which once carried a Northern arm of the Niger River. The Azawad river ran some 1600 km in prehistoric times (drying finally after the Neolithic Subpluvial: 7th to 4th millennium BCE ), and created a basin of some 420000 km². Its valley, which geologists call the Iullemmeden Basin, forms in the western foothills of the Aïr Mountains curves through the Sahara Dessert of modern Niger and Mali, meeting the Niger near Gao. It is bordered to the east by the Adrar des Ifoghas massif of modern Mali and Algeria, to the south by the Niger river in the west and the Ader Douchi hills in the east, and depending upon interpretation, runs north to the southern foothills of the Hoggar massif.[2]

In Mali, the name Azawak is used for the area, while in Niger, Azawagh is often used. In Niger, Azawagh generally includes the towns of Abalagh (Abalak), In Tibaraden (Tchin-Tabaraden), Tiliya, In Gal, Tabalaq, a village where the sole lake of the region is located.

Azawad Region is generally flat, its 80.000 square kilometers forming vast, arid plains broken by occasional ridges . The scarps separate a series of sandstone plateaus, the highest of which is reaching an elevation of 500 meters (1,640 ft), often rich in minerals, rise above the plateaus. Approximately three-fourths of Azawad area is desert or semidesert. As a result of extended, severe drought, the desert has been expanding since the mid-1960s.

http://www.thefullwiki.org/Azaouad
 

Omowale Jabali

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From stone to metal: New perspectives on the later prehistory of West Africa

Earlier views saw West Africa as culturally stagnant through much of the Holocene until stimulus or intervention from north of the Sahara transformed Iron Age societies. Evidence accumulating over the past 15 years suggests that stone-using societies from 10,000 to 3000 B.P. were far more diverse than previously thought. Against an increasingly detailed record of Holocene climate change, the complexity of local adaptation and change is becoming better understood. Although a strong case currently exists for the introduction of copper and iron to West Africa from the north in the mid-first millennium B.C., the subsequent development of metallurgy was strongly innovative in different parts of the subcontinent. Soon after the advent of metals, a dramatic increase in archaeological evidence for social stratification and hierarchical political structures indicates the emergence of societies markedly more complex than anything currently documented in the Late Stone Age. The best-documented examples come from the Middle Niger region and the Nigerian forest. In these areas, earlier diffusionist models in which complexity originated outside West Africa have yielded to evidence that indigenous processes were instrumental in this transformation. Trade, ideology, climate shifts, and indirect influences from North Africa, including the introduction of the domesticated horse to the Sahelian grasslands, are identified as factors essential to an understanding of these processes.

http://www.springerlink.com/content/g0n25j73g7744871/
 

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