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Title: The evolution of agriculture, food and drink in the ancient Niger River Basin : archaeobotanical studies from Mali and Benin
Author: Champion, Louis Henry Angel Prosper Moulinex
ISNI:       0000 0004 9352 4881
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2020
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This doctoral thesis examines the evolution of the agricultural and food economies that supported the communities that gave rise to complex societies in West Africa, as well as the agricultural systems that sustained the succeeding polities around the Niger River Valley. One of the major goals of my thesis was to reconstruct the evolution of food and beer systems, including both production and consumption. The aim of my thesis goes beyond simply documenting the arrival of new practices or new crop taxa. It also addresses the consumption practices that these crops gave rise to, and how they became embedded in the social, economic, political and environmental history of past African societies. The time period covered by this research (from 2000 BC. Until Today) witnesses climatic fluctuations, with continual oscillations between dry and humid phases. Many social changes also occurred during this period. One of the most important modifications in the African landscape, during the first and second millennium AD, is the growth of the West African states and empires, such as those of Ghana and Mali, as well as various Songhay polities. The extension and maturation of these political entities likely impacted on local agricultural systems, urbanization, and trade networks. The history and peopling of West Africa, and particularly in the Niger River area, is connected to issues of food consumption and social organisation. Indeed, we also have to study the ethno-historic framework of the area. This research includes an analysis of archaeobotanical material recovered from sites located in North Benin and Mali. The 13 sites from Benin were excavated for the ‘Crossroad of empires’ ERC project during three field seasons (2012-14). As for the samples from Malian sites, 4 were recovered by Kevin MacDonald during excavations in the 1990s, Sadia in Dogon country was excavated by the APA Swiss project in 2010-11 and Togu 2A excavated by Daouda Keita (Université des sciences Socials et Géstion, Bamako, Mali) for the Markadugu Project led by Nikolas Gestrich from the Frobenius Institute (Frankfurt, Germany).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available