Historical Archaeologies in Africa and America
In Africa south of the Sahara, archaeology and historical archaeology are very unevenly spread. Some countries have virtually no archaeology, whereas others, such as Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa, have extensive archaeological activity. As in the Middle East and Asia, archaeology is of European origin. Before the expansion of trade in the late fifteenth century, Africa south of the Sahara was largely unknown to Europeans. Even when European trade reached Africa, European merchants usually stayed in their fortified trading stations along the African coasts. Although they rarely left these coastal areas, they had a constant effect on the African interior through their trade, especially in connection with the destructive slave trade from the start of the sixteenth century until the first half of the nineteenth century (see Wolf, 1982:195 ff.). It was only with the colonial conquest and division of Africa at the end of the nineteenth century that Europeans began to penetrate the whole continent. It was in this colonial encounter with “primitive” Africa that Europeans began to collect artifacts and excavate. African archaeology is still dominated today by Europeans and Americans, although there are indigenous archaeologists in some countries.
KeywordsMaterial Culture Historical Archaeology Oral Tradition Archaeological Excavation American Archaeologist
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