Archaeological Deposit in Motako, Southwest Nigeria, Investigated by Pollen Analysis

  • Kingsley C. DaraojimbaEmail author
  • Philip A. Oyelaran
  • Marcia A. de Barros
  • Jeanne Cordeiro
  • Cynthia F. Pinto da Luz


Pollen, in association with phosphate and archaeological data from a 120 cm deep midden deposit provide insight into site formation processes at Motako. Twelve samples were retrieved from the five distinct stratigraphic layers and subjected to pH and phosphate analyses, and pollen with some archaeobotanical analyses. Results showed that environmental factors influenced the oxidation of the deposit in addition to fungal activity, hence the low pollen content recorded. Five pollen zones were established according to the pollen, phosphate, lithological and archaeological data. The identified palynomorphs were dominated by fungal spores and Amaranthaceae pollen. Moreover, ruderals, including species of ethnobotanical relevance, and Elaeis guineensis pollen were identified, indicating open vegetation initiated possibly by human activity. Zone 1 (110–85 cm) was characterised by low phosphate content, coupled with archaeological materials, broken palm kernels, and low pollen diversity suggesting the area was likely used for activities related to palm oil production. At Zone II (85–70 cm), we suspected that the deposit had gradually been turned into a midden heap as indicated by increase in organic matter content which corresponded to the increased concentration of phosphate and cultural materials, in addition to the increase of pollen of ruderal species. In Zone III (70–45 cm) the midden deposit was fully established with high activity as reflected in the peak in phosphate content, increased diversity of kitchen wares, organic remains and pollen of ethnobotanical significance. The midden was probably beginning to be deactivated in Zone IV (45–25 cm) and/or used for another activity such as gardening for the cultivation of plants with several domestic purposes. Zone V (25–0 cm) shows a reduction of both organic and inorganic materials. The varying concentrations of archaeological material, phosphate and pollen content suggest changing site activities across the sedimentary units, depicting changes in land use and management over time for refuse disposal. The occurrence of decreasing concentration of organic waste towards the top of the sediment profile in tandem with phosphate concentration was considered to be an indicator of the gradual abandonment of the midden.


Pollen Midden Charcoal particles Motako Ruderal species Economic plants Nigeria 



We thank the anonymous reviewers whose insightful comments guided us in preparing the final version of this paper. Dr Tubosun is appreciated for his relevant contributions to the first draft of this paper. Our sincere gratitude goes to Ms. Elizabeth Adeyemo, Messrs. Emmanuel Nwagbara and Moyib Segun for their assistance during the fieldwork. Mr. Nwagbara was very helpful in interpretation during all oral interviews conducted in the local community. Thanks are also offered to Mr. P. C. Opara for his assistance with sample preparation. Our inestimable friends, Messrs. Macham Mangut and Abiodun Areola, are appreciated for being instrumental in producing the satellite image vegetation map of the study area. In addition, we are greatly indebted to the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) for the financial support received by the third and fifth authors (research fellows). The funding facilitated the purchase of the Tilia software used in the production of pollen diagrams for this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kingsley C. Daraojimba
    • 1
    Email author
  • Philip A. Oyelaran
    • 1
  • Marcia A. de Barros
    • 2
  • Jeanne Cordeiro
    • 3
  • Cynthia F. Pinto da Luz
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Archaeology and AnthropologyUniversity of IbadanIbadanNigeria
  2. 2.Laboratório de Palinologia, Department of GeologyUniversidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  3. 3.Laboratório de Arquelogia BrasileiraRio de JaneiroBrazil
  4. 4.Núcleo de Pesquisa em Palinologia, Instituto de BotânicaSão PauloBrazil

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