The University of Arizona

West Central African Peoples: Survey of Radiocarbon Dates over the Past 5000 Years

Richard Oslisly, Ilham Bentaleb, Charly Favier, Michel Fontugne, Jean François Gillet, Julie Morin-Rivat


Tracing human history in west central Africa suffers from a scarcity of historical data and archaeological remains. In order to provide new insight into this problem, we reviewed 733 radiocarbon dates of archaeological sites from the end of the Late Stone Age, Neolithic Stage, and Early and Late Iron Age in Cameroon, Gabon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo, and the western Democratic Republic of Congo. This review provides a spatiotemporal framework of human settlement in the forest biome. Beyond the well-known initial spread of Iron Age populations through central African forests from 2500 cal BP, it depicts the geographical patterns and links with the cultural evolution of the successive phases of human expansion from 5000 to 3000 cal BP and then from 3000 to 1600 cal BP, of the hinterland depopulation from 1350 to 860 cal BP, and of recolonization up to 500 cal BP.

DOI: 10.2458/azu_js_rc.55.16385

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