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Archaeology and the Prehistoric Origins of the Ghana Empire Author(s): Patrick J.

Munson Reviewed work(s): Source: The Journal of African History, Vol. 21, No. 4 (1980), pp. 457-466 Published by: Cambridge University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/182004 . Accessed: 12/02/2013 06:33
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Journal of African History, Printed in Great Britain

21 (I980),

pp. 457-466

457

ARCHAEOLOGY

AND OF THE

THE PREHISTORIC GHANA EMPIRE


J. MUNSON

ORIGINS

BY PATRICK

historically recorded kingdom of the West African SahelTHE EARLIEST Sudan is the Ghana Empire. The major thesis of this paper is that Ghana was not the first, but rather the second complex political system to exist in this region, and that just as the Mali Empire arose from the ruins of shattered Ghana, Ghana had in turn arisen from the remains of a still earlier, prehistoric system. 1 What is known, historically, of the ancient kingdom of Ghana has come to us through various Arabic texts dating from about 8oo to i 650. These writings, as they concern Ghana, have been translated, quoted, summarized, and interpreted elsewhere in considerable detail,2 and consequently only some of the more salient features of the kingdom will be noted here. Ghana, which is known to have been in existence prior to 8oo, was centred in the western Sahel in what is now southeastern Mauretania and western Mali. Its reason for being, at least in large part, was the trans-Saharan trade; it lay at the southern terminus of the caravan routes that brought salt (as well as, to a lesser extent, such things as copper and cloth) from or across the Sahara, and it lay at the northern edge of the West African gold fields. The profits gained from the control of this trade allowed Ghana to become rich and powerful. Available data on the social and political structure of Ghana suggest, among other things, that rule was by a divine king. Apparently the political system was little different from most later despotic kingdoms through the savanna zone of sub-Saharan Africa. The king of Ghana and much of his court, despite certain statements to the contrary by later writers, was certainly Negro, specifically Soninke,3 and pagan. There were, to be sure, white men (Muslim Berbers) in important positions in the kingdom, but prior to the Almoravid intervention in 1076-7 their primary role was clearly that of merchants and traders who supplied the means by which the gold and salt moved through the kingdom. The writings of Ibn Hawqal in 977 and al-Bakri in IO67-8 give us a fair description of the capital of Ghana. There were two towns. One was occupied by Muslim Berbers (merchants, Islamic scholars). The other, some Io km away, contained the fortified palace of the Negro king. The Tarikh al-Fattash ('Chronicle of the Seeker', written in the seventeenth century) provides us
1 An earlier, unpublished version of this position was presented at the Conference on Manding Studies, London, 1972. 2 Raymond Mauny, 'The question of Ghana', Africa, xxiv, iii (I954), 200-13; Basil Davidson, The Lost Cities of Africa (Boston, 1959); Nehemia Levtzion, Ancient Ghana and Mali (London, 1973). 3 Levtzion, Ancient Ghana and Mali, chap. ii; Abdoulaye Bathily, 'A discussion of the traditions of Wagadu, with some reference to ancient Ghana', Bulletin de l'Institut fondamental d'Afrique noire (ser. B), xxxvii, i (I975), 1-49. 0021-8537/80/2828-1950
$02.00
(D

I980 Cambridge University Press

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J. MUNSON

with the name of the capital: Koumbi. Using these historical data, plus present local traditions and archaeological excavations, Bonnel de Mezieres4 located a ruined city in southeastern Mauretania which he suggested was Koumbi. Subsequent excavations at this site5 have substantiated this identification and have shown that the city was over i km2 in size. However, from the architecture and the artifacts, there seems little doubt that the excavations have been within only the Muslim town. The fortified palace of the kind has not yet been positively located (or at least has not yet been investigated). The date of origin of Ghana is obscured in prehistory. It definitely predates 8oo when the Arab geographer al-Fazari referred to the kingdom. The Tarikh al-Sudan, written many centuries after the collapse of Ghana and apparently based primarily on oral tradition, states that there had been twenty-two kings prior to the Hejira. If one assumed the validity of this statement and assumed an average reign of twenty years per king, this would suggest an origin in the second century A.D. Levtzion6 has rightly argued, however, that these figures should be treated very cautiously. A more defensible position would be to posit a beginning date some centuries before 8oo, or near the middle of the first millennium A.D.
THE ORIGIN OF GHANA: PREVIOUS HYPOTHESES

There has been a tendency for many years and with many Africanists to ascribe most cultural advances in sub-Saharan Africa to forces from outside sub-Saharan Africa, and specifically from North Africa and the Near East. The so-called Hamitic hypothesis, as it concerns sub-Saharan Africa in general, is perhaps best exemplified by Seligman,7 who has argued that the 'Hamites were, in fact, the great civilizing force of Black Africa from a relatively early period.' Such explanations have not been lacking for the origins of Ghana and other early states in West Africa; many authors have argued for migrations, invasions, or massive diffusion from Meroe,8 ancient Egypt,9 or North Africa.10 The Sudanic states, in this view, are seen, to quote Oliver and Fage,11 as 'a superstructure erected over village communities of peasant cultivators rather than a society which has grown naturally out of them'. Posnansky12 has rightly pointed out, however, that the 'absence of the highly distinctive Meroitic pottery in West Africa... provides... reason to believe that the direct contribution of Meroe ... has been overstressed'. As
4 A. Bonnel de Mezieres, 'Recherches de 1'emplacement de Ghana (fouilles a Koumbi et ai Settah)', Comptes rendus de l'Academie des inscriptions et belles-lettres, xii (1920),

and R. Mauny, 'Campagne de fouilles de 1950 a Koumbi Saleh (Ghana?)', Bulletin de l'Institutfran(ais d'Afrique noire (ser. B), xviii, i-ii (1956), 117-40. 6 Levtzion, Ancient Ghana and Mali, 20. C. G. Seligman, The Races of Africa (London, 1930), I9. in Roland Oliver (ed.), The Dawn of African 8 A. J. Arkell, 'The valley of the Nile',

227-63. P p. Thomassey

History (London,

" Roland Oliver and J. D. Fage, A Short History of Africa (Baltimore, I962), 46. Merrick Posnansky, 'Kingship, archaeology, and historical myth', in Robert 0. Collins (ed.), Problems in African History (Englewood Cliffs, I968), 48.
12

i i. I96I), 9 Cheik Anta Diop, Nations negres et culture (Paris, 1955). 22-5. ii (Paris, 1912), 10 M. Delafosse, Haut-Senegal-Niger,

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ORIGINS

OF THE

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for North African-Berber contributions to the basic elements of the Sudanic states, the Saharan nomads 'had little experience in political organization and state-building '.13 It would be fair to assume that the effect of the protohistoric Libyco-Berbers on the peoples of the West African Sudan would have been comparable to that of their historic descendants, people such as the nomadic Tuareg, who carried on a continuous series of raids against the northern frontiers of the West African societies.14 It is my contention, based in part on recent archaeological investigations carried out among late prehistoric remains in south-central Mauretania, that the early kingdoms of West Africa exemplify what might be called a cultural core which is purely African in content. Murdock15 has called this an African ' mental blueprint of a despotic political structure', and Lewis16 has argued that this distinctive African complex must be viewed as having 'great age and elaboration in situ'. There were white men, specifically Libyco-Berbers ultimately from northern Africa, involved, and importantly involved, in the Ghana Empire as it existed in historic times. The question, however, is how they were involved originally. I submit, as has previously been suggested by others,17 that it was the possibilities of trade across the Sahara, carried out by the Libyco-Berbers, plus to a lesser extent the introduction of ironworking technology, also by the Libyco-Berbers, that stimulated the evolution of the Ghana Empire out of a basic pre-existing pattern which had its roots in this area in a prehistoric period well prior to the initial Libyco-Berber influences.

THE

LATER

PREHISTORY

OF SOUTHERN

MAURETANIA

Recent archaeological research,18 plus earlier surveys,19 has demonstrated that there exists in the Dhar Tichitt-Oualata region of southern Mauretania a great wealth of rather spectacular prehistoric remains. For the purposes of this paper the primary concern will be only with the latest portion of this
Levtzion, Ancient Ghana and Mali, 8. Bolanle Awe, 'Empires of the Sudan: Ghana, Mali, Songhay', in J. F. Ade Ajayi and Ian Espie (eds.), A Thousand Years of West African History (Ibadan, 1965), 58-9. 15 George P. Murdock, Africa: Its Peoples and their Culture History (New York, 1959),
14 13

37.
16 Herbert S. Lewis, 'Ethnology and culture history', in Creighton Gabel and Norman R. Bennett (eds.), Reconstructing African History (Boston, 1967), 30. 17 Murdock, Africa, 72; Davidson, Lost Cities, 8i; Levtzion, Ancient Ghana and Mali,

9-I1, 18

14.

Patrick J. Munson, 'The Tichitt Tradition: A Late Prehistoric Occupation of the Southwestern Sahara', unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Illinois-Urbana (1 971); 'Archaeological data on the origins of cultivation in the southwestern Sahara and their implications for West Africa', in Jack R. Harlan et al. (eds.), Origins of African Plant Domestication (The Hague, 1976), I 87-209; H.-J. Hugot, 'Les communautes neolithiques urbaines de Tichitt', Revue franfaise d'histoire d'Outre-Mer, LIX, CCXVi (I972), 506-I2. 19 Pierre Laforgue, 'Une station prehistorique dans le secteur nomade de Tichitt', Bulletin de la Societe de geographie et d'archeologie d'Oran, XLIV, iii-iV (1924), 267-79; Raymond Mauny, 'Villages neolithiques de la falaise (dhar) Tichitt-Oualata', Notes africaines, L (1950), 35-43; 'Du nouveau sur la prehistoire et l'archeologie de l'Aouker et du Hodh (Mauritanie)', Bulletin de la Societe prehistorique franfaise, XLVI, i-ii (I 95 I), 78-83.

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J. MUNSON

prehistoric sequence, a continuum that I have called the Tichitt Tradition, and will begin with what I have called the Naghez Phase, radiocarbon-dated about I 100 B.C. It is to be noted that this phase is the result of cultural developments which had been occurring, apparently without major external influences, for many centuries prior to this time. The Naghez Phase, however, represents something of a cultural deflexion from the preceding developments; for the first time large stone masonry villages were constructed. These villages cover more than 0 25 km2 and consist of roughly circular compounds 20-40 m in diameter, connected by well-defined streets. Within each compound one finds the ruins of one to three structures which have been interpreted as dwellings. The Naghez Phase villages are always located at the base of the escarpment and adjacent to the beaches of the several small, shallow, freshwater lakes that existed in the region at this time. Subsistence, as reconstructed from the bones and carbonized plant remains found in the excavations and from the impressions of grains found on the pottery, consisted of a heavy emphasis on the herding of cattle and goats, some hunting of wild animals, a limited amount of fishing, and considerable collecting of wild seeds and fruits. Impressions of seeds of the millets Pennisetum and Brachiaria occur in very limited quantities, but unfortunately it has not been possible to determine if they represent cultivated grains; it seems likely, however, that at least limited, incipient cultivation was being practised at this time. There is no indication of the use of metal at these sites, the industry being what in a technological sense would be called Neolithic: pottery, ground stone axes and gouges, chipped stone scrapers and projectile points, and milling stones. Population density was relatively light at this period, for although the villages were large (and would contain, I would estimate, from 500 to I,OOO persons each) they were spaced about 20 km apart along the base of the escarpment. The following phase, which I have named the Chebka Phase and which B.C., clearly has been radiocarbon-dated from about IOOO B.C. to goo-800 evolved directly from the preceding Naghez Phase. It does, however, differ from it in several very significant ways. The villages, although still of stone masonry construction and similar in both size and plan to the Naghez Phase villages, differ in that they are located in high, easily defensible positions atop the ioo m high escarpment. Each village is entirely encircled by a masonry wall over 2 m high and i m thick. Furthermore, each approach to these villages is lined with small defensive structures which take the form of horseshoe-shaped, masonry archer's redoubts. Clearly this was a period of considerable strife, but in the absence of any evidence to the contrary we may assume that this was warfare between culturally related groups or villages rather than with invaders from outside the area. Additional differences are seen in subsistence, for over half of the numerous grain impressions found on the pottery are of the millet Pennisetum, and a high proportion of these have definite characteristics of cultivated varieties. Other aspects of the subsistence pattern include the continued herding of cattle and goats, with milking probably being important since in the associated rock art the cattle are usually depicted with exaggerated udders. Gathering of wild plant foods still played some part, as did hunting. Fishing,

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I~~~~~Tih

0 km

500

Fig.

i.

Ghana Empire (solid line) and known extent of Tichitt Tradition


(dashed line).

however, no longer was practised since, from all indications, the lakes had dried up by this period. Population had apparently increased considerably by this period. Villages are equally large as in the preceding Naghez Phase but are about four times more numerous; from western Dhar Tichitt to
southern Dhar Oualata, a distance of some
300

ki,

there is approximately

one

village everY 5 km along the escarpment. The following Arriane Phase, dated about 800-900 B.C. to 6oo B.C., evolved from the preceding Chebka Phase, but exhibits still further differences. In terms of diet, over 8o per cent of the grain impressions on the pottery are now of cultivated Pennisetum, and herding continued to play an important role. The villages, although still of stone masonry construction and of similar

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J. MUNSON

plan, differ in that they are no longer placed in extremely inaccessible positions nor are they fortified in any way. They are also somewhat smaller than the Chebka Phase and Naghez Phase villages, but are much more numerous; there are about 200 known villages of this phase within the 300 km distance between the present towns of Tichitt and Oualata. The final Neolithic phase known for this region has been named the Akjinjeir Phase and has been radiocarbon-dated between about 600 B.C. and 300 B.C. Site locations of this phase are very different from those of the preceding phases; the sites are hidden among the high, jagged rocks at the very summit of the escarpment. Not only are these sites very well hidden, they are also quite small and heavily fortified. Standards of architectural workmanship and the lithic and ceramic industries had declined, and the proportion of bones of domesticated animals decreases greatly. The conclusion is inescapable that the people of the terminal Neolithic Akjinjeir Phase were under very serious attack, and that this pressure was sufficiently serious that their culture could not be maintained on its previous level. As to the identity of the attackers, all lines of evidence point to the north, and specifically to the Libyco-Berbers. Following the Akjinjeir Phase and up to the foundation of the still-existing town of Tichitt there is a long hiatus in which no villages are found. What are found are numerous pecked and painted figures of mounted warriors and tifinar inscriptions superimposed directly over the rock art of the Akjinjeir Phase, and pre-Islamic, LibycoBerber rock tombs, often made from stones torn from the walls of the Akjinjeir Phase villages. Of additional relevance are historical documents concerning North Africa, specifically the writings of Herodotus in the fifth century B.C., which mention the horse-using Garamantes who 'hunted' the 'Ethiopians' who lived to the south.20 Although it is unlikely that this refers specifically to the Tichitt area, it might reflect a pattern of Libyan incursions that was occurring throughout the western Sahara. There are no indications that the northern invaders were a civilizing element in this area; their basic contribution, at least initially, was the destruction of a pre-existing and rather sophisticated society of cultivators. In a quest for the progenitors of Ghana, it would seem very much more likely that it was the descendants of the sedentary cultivators, rather than the nomadic Libyco-Berbers, who are the better candidates.
ETHNO-LINGUISTIC IDENTITY OF THE TICHITT TRADITION

If one is to demonstrate a continuity from the Tichitt Tradition to the Ghana Empire it is first necessary to demonstrate that the same people were responsible for both. The basic population of Ghana was Soninke. A case can be made for identifying the population of the Tichitt Tradition as Negro and probably Soninke, or perhaps proto-Soninke or possibly proto-Mande. A number of lines of evidence are applicable, and although no one of them in isolation is conclusive, when taken in combination they strongly support this position. The plans of the masonry villages of the Tichitt Tradition argue for a Sudanic identity of their builders. Towns consisting of circular or irregular
20

G. C. Macauley (translator),

The History of Herodotus (London,

I904),

I96.

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conjoined compounds, each containing several dwellings and storehouses and connected by a series of winding streets, are the pattern with the modern Soninke, Manding, Bambara, etc., just to the south, and such a pattern contrasts markedly with towns in North Africa or towns built or inspired by Berbers. Furthermore, the Diawara, who were Soninke speakers and who presently live just south of the Mauretanian border, build a type of structure by erecting three lines of three posts and then covering them with a mat.21 These structures, without the mat roof and substituting up-ended linear stones for the posts, compare very well with some constructions found within the compounds of the Tichitt Tradition villages. The ceramics of the final phase of the prehistoric Tichitt Tradition, in terms of both vessel shapes and decoration, show striking similarities with pottery still made by modern Soninke (Diawara) potters22 and with pottery made until recently by the Negro peoples of Dhar Tichitt-Oualata (who were formerly speakers of the Aser dialect of Soninke). Monod23 has previously argued for a direct continuity from the Neolithic of the Oualata area to the Aser, on the basis of the ceramic similarities. Modern linguistic distributions contribute further support. Within what would be roughly the southern third of the area covered by the Ghana Empire, Soninke now forms almost a solid block. The northern two-thirds or so of the old Ghana area, which includes Dhar Nema, Dhar Oualata, Dhar Tichitt, the Affole, and much of the Assaba and the Tagant, is now occupied in large part by nomadic Moors who speak the Hassaniya dialect of Arabic. However, scattered throughout this area one finds enclaves of Negro cultivators who speak (or at least until recently spoke) the Aser dialect of Soninke. It is possible, of course, that these people represent only descendants of slaves who had been brought from areas to the south and installed around the oases. However, if this is the case, one would more reasonably expect a mixture of Sudanic languages to be represented - Soninke, Manding, Bambara, Tukulor, Songhay, etc., rather than a single language. Consequently, it would seem more likely that Soninke was once the language throughout this region and that its speakers have been encapsulated by the subsequent spread of the Moors. And since there is reason to believe that peoples akin to the Moors, the Libyco-Berbers, were encroaching upon this area by the seventh century B.C. the initial period of encapsulation would seem to have begun during the final phase (Akjinjeir) of the Tichitt Tradition. Finally, there exist a number of Iron Age, stone masonry ruins in the Affole and Assaba regions of southern Mauretania which, because of certain ethnographic parallels, distributions, etc., would seem most likely to be of Soninke origin.24 These sites share many specific architectural similarities with the villages of the Akiinieir Phase of Dhar Tichitt.
franfais d'Afrique noire, XXIX
23 24

21 Cf. G. Boyer, 'Une peuple de l'Ouest soudanais: (1953), fig. I0. 22 Boyer, 'Les Diawara', fig. 25.

les Diawara', Memoire de l'Institut

Theodore Monod, Meharees: explorations au vrai Sahara (Paris, I937), 230. Pierre Laforgue, 'Notes sur Aoudaghost: ancienne capital de Berberes Lamtouna', Bulletin de la Societe de geographie et d'archIologie d'Oran, LXIV (I943), 30; Charles Toupet, 'La vall6e de la Tamourt en Nanj. Tagant. Problermes d'amenagement', Bulletin de l'Institutfranfais d'Afrique noire (ser. B), xx, i-ii (958), 77.
17 AFH
21

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464
THE ORIGIN

PATRICK

J. MUNSON

OF GHANA:

A NEW

HYPOTHESIS

If it is given that the population of the prehistoric Tichitt Tradition was Soninke (or proto-Soninke), the next step is to demonstrate the relationship of this cultural complex to the subsequent emergence of Ghana. The hypothesis that I am about to present draws in large part from Carneiro's25 theory of state formation, which in turn draws upon certain key concepts of Steward's26 formulation for the development of complex political organizations. Of particular importance is the position that the condition under which many early states arose was a limited supply of agricultural land. Stated in the simplest terms, Carneiro's theory holds that where agricultural groups occupy areas with unlimited agricultural land there would be no warfare over land. There might be warfare for other reasons (personal prestige, obtaining wives, etc.), but since the losers in this type of conflict could easily move away to areas farther from attack the villages would remain autonomous; there would be little reason for or likelihood of the developent of large and complex political organizations. In areas of limited arable land, however, the situation would be quite different. Originally, when population densities were light, there would have been autonomous villages. As population grew, however, there would be fission of villages until all the available land was being farmed. At this point, if villages continued to grow, they would begin competing for the available land, but the losers in this type of warfare could not flee; there would be no other available land to flee to. Consequently, to remain on the land requires that the losing villages give up their autonomy, to be subordinated by and incorporated within the political unit dominated by the victor. This would be the political level of a chiefdom. The next step in this process is the conquest of chiefdom by chiefdom, with the sizes of the political units increasing and their numbers decreasing, until eventually one paramount chief, or king, emerged as the centralized ruler of a large area and population. How does this formulation fit the Tichitt sequence? First, the peoples were and were B.C.) full-fledged farmers by the Chebka Phase (c. IOOO-900 probably incipient cultivators by at least the later portions of the preceding Naghez Phase. Secondly, this is an area of sharply circumscribed agricultural land; rainfall at c. I000 B.C. was probably little more than I50 mm per year, and given the absence of any indications of artificial irrigation the only arable areas would have been the silt deposits within the seasonally wetted former lake beds. Prior to the Chebka Phase, and prior to the appearance of intensive cultivation, population density was relatively low and there is no evidence of warfare; villages were almost certainly autonomous at this time. However, coinciding with the appearance of intensive cultivation at the beginning of the Chebka Phase, we find evidence for a greatly increased population and
25 Robert L. Carneiro, cultivation among the Kuikuru and its 'Slash-and-burn implications for cultural development in the Amazon basin', in Johannes Wilbert (ed.), The Evolution of Horticultural Systems in Native South America: Causes and Consequences 733-8. (Caracas, I96I), 6o-i; 'A theory of the origin of the state', Science, CLXIX (I970), 26 Julian H. Steward, 'Cultural causality and law: a trial formulation of the development 1-27. of early civilization', American Anthropologist, LI, i (I949),

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for elaborately fortified villages. I submit that what we see here is inter-village warfare resulting from competition over the limited agricultural lands. In the following Arriane Phase (beginning c. goo-800 B.C.), however, there is no longer evidence of warfare, despite the facts that products of cultivation now played an even greater role in the subsistence economy, and that population density was considerably greater than in the Chebka Phase. If we assume that the primary cause of the warfare in the Chebka Phase was competition for land, and given that in the Arriane Phase, with its higher population and more intensive cultivation, there is no evidence of warfare, it then follows that somehow this conflict had been resolved. The mechanism, given the abundant evidence for warfare in the preceding Chebka Phase, seems clear; the strongest village, or alliance of villages, had emerged victorious and had subjugated the others. It is also probably relevant that there is evidence at this time for the expansion of the Tichitt Tradition (actual villages or at least numerous artifacts and styles of the Arriane Phase) from at least the extreme western end of Dhar Tichitt to Dhar Nema. Furthermore, located near the centre of the known distribution of the Arriane Phase villages is the architectural site of Kedama,27 which is over i km2 in size. I submit that what we see in the Arriane Phase is a rather complex political organization, at least a powerful chiefdom or perhaps an incipient state, and that the site of Kedama may represent its administrative capital. Whether this political organization would have continued to expand and would have evolved into a true kingdom on its own momentum, or whether it had reached the limits of complexity possible within the existing technologicalenvironmental framework, can of course never be known. What is known, however, is that in the seventh century B.C. a new element was introduced; the area was invaded by Libyco-Berber raiders, first by ox-cart, later on horses,28 and equipped with metal weapons. The result, for the moment at least, was cultural disaster. Those persons who were not killed or enslaved barely managed to eke out an existence, hidden in small groups in fortified little villages among the high rocks. The Libyco-Berber groups in the meantime were expanding farther and farther south, and there found, eventually, a rich field of gold and slaves to be exploited. But for these resources to be profitable required their transport to the Mediterranean world, and the long caravan route across the Sahara required supply stations along its length. Consequently, about 300 B.C., the surviving population of the Akjinjeir Phase was induced, under the promise of protection, to come down from the fortified little villages among the high rocks and to establish agricultural villages along the caravan route, villages like the present town of Tichitt, where they could then exist in a symbiotic relationship with the nomadic, caravan-oriented Libyco-Berbers. With a return to tranquillity, plus the acquisition of ironmaking technology and involvement in the rich trans-Saharan trade, the sedentary, Negro, Soninke descendants of the Tichitt Tradition again began to flourish, both
Mauny, 'Villages', p. 39. Raymond Mauny, 'Une route prehistorique I travers le Sahara occidental', Bulletin de l'Institut franfais d'Afrique noire, Ix, iv (I947), 341-57; P. J. Munson and C. A. Munson, 'Nouveaux chars a bceufs rupestres du dhar Tichitt (Mauritanie)', Notes africaines, cxxii (I969), 62-3.
27 28 17-2

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466
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MUNSON

in population and power, and within a few hundred years, perhaps prior to 500, the 'mental blueprint of a despotic political structure' re-emerged. The result was the eventual establishment, just slightly to the south of the earlier Tichitt Tradition, of the much more powerful Ghana Empire.
SUMMARY

Archaeological investigations in southern Mauretania have revealed a wealth of rather spectacular stone masonry villages which were occupied by prehistoric cultivators as early as I000 B.C. It is argued that the inhabitants of these villages were Negro and very probably Soninke, and that the basic elements of their culture had developed without major influences from outside the area. The apparent sophistication and complexity of this cultural manifestation, combined with the close fit of developments in this area with Carneiro's theory of state formation, suggests that this prehistoric complex represented at least a powerful chiefdom which embodied many of the characteristicsof subsequent West African states. The first demonstrable outside influences in the area began about 600 B.C. with the arrival of Libyco-Berbers from North Africa. Rather than causing still further cultural advances, the initial effect of this contact was the collapse of this sociopolitical organization. But with subsequent adjustment, plus the potential from trans-Saharantrade carried out by the North Africans, the basic, pre-existing pattern re-emerged, resulting eventually in a second and much more powerful African political organization in this area - the Ghana Empire.

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