The Archaeobotany of the Later Stone Age (LSA) in Nigeria: A Review

  • Emuobosa A. OrijemieEmail author


A review of the evidence for plant use during the Later Stone Age (LSA), a period which spanned c. 10,000-0 BC (12,000–2000 yr BP), in Nigeria is presented. Available data indicate that although there was contemporaneity in the use of artefacts (pottery, trapezoids and ground-stone axes) associated with plant use at LSA sites, there were marked regional differences in the plant species exploited. Linguistic evidence indicates the exploitation of Elaeis guineensis Jacq., Cola acuminata (P.Beauv.) Schott & Endl., Dioscorea spp. and Raphia hookeri G.Mann & H.Wendl. in the Proto Atlantic-Congo period in southern Nigeria, and subsequent exploitation of E. guineensis at c. 1000 BC (3000 yr BP). In the northeast, wild grasses, rice and fruits were exploited from c. 2000 BC (4000 yr BP), and domesticated Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R.Br. by c. 1200–1000 BC (3200–3000 yr BP). In the north-central areas, from c. 800–450 BC P. glaucum, Eleusine cf. coracana L. Gaertn., Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp., Canarium schweinfurthii Engl., Vitex spp. and Isoberlinia were exploited in the Nok area of north-central Nigeria. At Kariya Wuro, Bridelia scleroneura Müll.Arg., Pavetta sp., E. guineensis and Sarcocephalus latifolius Sm. were gathered prior to c. AD 800. Incontrovertible evidence of the utilisation of culturally significant crops such as Dioscorea spp. is lacking due partly to the paucity of archaeobotanical research and to ineffective recovery methods. The combination of ethnographic and palaeoethnobotanical data is necessary to refine the understanding of human-plant interactions in the LSA, the archaeobotanical picture of which is still unfolding.


Later stone age Human-plant interactions Microliths Palaeoenvironment Nigeria 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Archaeology and AnthropologyUniversity of IbadanIbadanNigeria
  2. 2.McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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