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13 - Archaeological Patterns and Social Process: Reconstructing Changing Life at Kirikongo

Stephen A. Dueppen
Affiliation:
University of Oregon
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Summary

In archaeological interpretations, a holistic view of societal change requires diverse lines of evidence, that when combined together paint a detailed portrait of social groups over time. The following temporal trends in archaeological patterns are here examined: dispersed mounds to clustered mounds, generalized households to specialized households, closed compounds to open neighborhoods (room blocks), bridewealth and animal sacrifice to bride service and animal sacrifice, garden hunting to collective hunting, the emergence of ritual architecture, restricted cemetery burial to a generalized mortuary program, and possible regional integration to local autonomy. The understandings derived from the following discussions are critical to the interpretations advanced in subsequent chapters. (A summary of the information in this chapter is available in Table 13.1.)

Spatial Organization: From Independent Mounds to a Clustered Village

Changes in the spatial organization of Kirikongo suggest dramatic transformations in the community and land tenure system over time. During Yellow I to mid-Yellow II, Mounds 1, 4 and 11 were dispersed (ca. 200 meters apart) in a north/south line following the edge of the laterite ridge. Their respective locations, above seasonal flooding, provided each with access to deep farming soils. In the ethnographic survey, when compounds were dispersed they were self-sufficient and independent entities in relation to a village. Concerning land tenure, the distribution of mounds adjacent to deep soils suggests a need to assert access to fertile land, and it is not clear if the inhabitants of Mound 4 controlled (or exercised control over) access to land until the period after Mound 11 was founded.

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Egalitarian Revolution in the Savanna
The Origins of a West African Political System
, pp. 274 - 292
Publisher: Acumen Publishing
Print publication year: 2012

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