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Since the 1970s, there has been a significant increase in regional data sets relating to tell sites in the West African Sahel. Previous colonial notions that Trans-Saharan commerce in the Islamic era created the first Sub-Saharan towns and polities have now been largely abandoned; it is all too apparent that complex settlement systems were widespread in the south long before the eighth century. Yet questions of Trans-Saharan interactions with the Berber world in preceding centuries have not been so effectively addressed. In this chapter, I examine archaeological evidence for architectural development and settlement growth within the Hodh and Middle Niger basins: the Tichitt, Walata, Tagant and Néma escarpments, the Méma, the Inland Niger Delta, the Lakes Region, the area of Timbuktu and the Gourma (Fig. 13.1). The advent of different types of dry stone, coursed earth or mudbrick structures and the regional timing of settlement growth will be the primary factors under consideration.
This chapter summarizes the archaeological evidence for the Neolithic and early food production across South Asia, with a focus on four major macro-regions with distinct chronological sequences, crop ecologies and cultural traditions. The four macro-regions are given by the northwest, including the greater Indus valley, the Gangetic plains, eastern India and savanna India. The earliest agriculture in South Asia can be found along the western tributaries of the Indus River, at aceramic settlements like Mehrgarh. Towards the middle Ganges plains there is clear evidence of a strongly indigenous Neolithic tradition, which included the development of rice cultivation and eventual sedentism. The nature of early Neolithic societies in eastern India has been less well studied than other parts of the subcontinent. However, there is a growing corpus of information from various streams of evidence available in the archaeological literature. The case for a truly independent origin of agriculture in South Asia is strongest in the southern peninsula of India.