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Sériation chronologique de la céramique mégalithique sénégambienne (Sénégal, Gambie), 700 cal BC – 1700 cal AD

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Our knowledge of Senegambian megaliths owes a lot to the works of Guy Thilmans and Cyr Descamps, who have analyzed in-depth funerary monuments in a taphonomic perspective. But the ware unearthed during excavations, namely pottery, has never been thoroughly studied. The article suggests a first chronological seriation of pottery found in Senegambian megalithic graves. This ordering relies mainly on ware collected in the Bao Bolon basin (a tributary to the Gambia river), i.e., the westernmost part of the megalithic region. We used, among else, the ware excavated by University of Geneva in 1980–81 from the Mbolob Tobé site at Santhiou Kohel, as well as the stratigraphy discovered in 2002 and 2003 by Augustin Holl and Hamady Bocoum in circle 27 at Sine Ngayène. We were able to identify four phases, i.e., three megalithic phases plus a postmegalithic one. The first two phases Megalithic 1 and 2 have been corroborated by the statigraphic series in double-monolithic-circle 27 at Sine Ngayène. Phase 3 only differs from phase 2 by topographical features: tumulus outside the megalithic circles zone in the combined necropolis. Validation by C14 dating is still pending, as the contrast between “phases” 2 and 3 may be a matter of castes rather of time. Putting the whole back into the social, political and trade context of pre-colonial Western African societies might also contribute to a robust interpretation.

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