Four thousand years of plant exploitation in the Chad Basin of northeast Nigeria I: The archaeobotany of Kursakata

Klee, Marlies ; Zach, Barbara ; Neumann, Katharina

In: Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 2000, vol. 9, no. 4, p. 223-237

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    This paper discusses archaeobotanical remains from the settlement mound of Kursakata, Nigeria, comprising both charred and uncharred seeds and fruits as well as charcoal. In addition, impressions of plant tempering material in potsherds were analysed. The late Stone Age and Iron Age sequence at Kursakata is date from 1000 cal. B.C. to cal. A.D. 100. DomesticatedPennisetum (pearl millet), wild Paniceae and wild rice are the most common taxa. Kernels from tree fruits were regularly found including large numbers ofVitex simplicifolia—a tree which is absent from the area today. A distinct change in plant spectra can be observed between the late Stone Age and the Iron Age. Although domesticated pearl millet was already known at the beginning of the settlement sequence of Kursakata, it only gained greater economic importance during the Iron Age. Besides farming, pastoralism and fishing, gathering of wild plants always played a major role in the subsistence strategy of the inhabitants of Kursakata. The charcoal results show that firewood was mainly collected from woodlands on the clay plains, which must have been more diverse than today. The end of the late Stone Age in the Chad Basin was presumably accompanied by the onset of drier environmental conditions from ca. 800 cal. B.C. onwards