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Microbotanical Assessment of Anthropogenic Impacts in the Ngotto Forest, Central African Republic During the Last Millennium AD

  • Christopher A. Kiahtipes
Chapter

Abstract

Scientific understanding of past human-environment interactions in tropical Central Africa is limited by two primary problems. First, paleoenvironmental studies often focus on records that lack spatial and chronological association with documented archaeological records. Second, the range of potential human impacts on past environments is typically conflated within models of agricultural production while the other socioeconomic dimensions of human impacts linked with social complexity and specialization are poorly understood. Riparian swamps immediately adjacent to archaeological sites dating to the last five hundred years in the Central African Republic (CAR) yielded well preserved pollen and microscopic charcoal remains that document multiple phases of human settlement of the forest zone and their impacts on local vegetation. This record from the Ngotto Forest is spatially associated with a unique iron smelting center and the deposits cover major cultural transitions from the Late Iron Age through the post-Colonial era in great detail. As such, it sheds light on how intensive iron metallurgy, expanding trade networks, and, eventually, the collapse of local socioeconomic structures during French colonial rule shaped the modern composition and structure of Guineo-Congolian rain forests in CAR.

Keywords

Anthropogenic impact Charcoal particle Forest Late iron age Metallurgy Paleoecology Paleoenvironment Palynology 

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologySouthern Methodist UniversityDallasUSA

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