Saturday, March 06, 2010

Iron-age rituals in Africa

Here is an interesting discovery of pre-Islamic rituals in Ghana (from Science, Feb 26):
Last month, archaeologists working at a site in northern Ghana uncovered the most detailed evidence yet of a highly sophisticated and previously unknown Iron Age society. A team led by Benjamin Kankpeyeng of the University of Ghana in Legon excavated part of an earthen mound containing 92 whole and broken terra-cotta figurines of humans and mythical creatures. Radiocarbon dates from similar mounds in the region place the time between 600 C.E. and 1200 C.E.

The mound, which miraculously escaped decades of heavy looting in the region, may have served as an ancient shrine. Team co-director Timothy Insoll of the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom says the figurines have what appear to be libation holes to hold ritual drinks for a deity. There's also a ritually arranged human skull: "The jaw was removed, the skull was turned face-down, and the teeth were snapped out and placed nearby," Insoll says.

The finds open a major window on ritual life in West Africa before the Islamic era, says Christopher DeCorse, an archaeologist at Syracuse University in New York state: "It's analogous to the discovery of Upper Paleolithic rock art in Europe."
Very cool.


emre said...

Bah... the first temple in the world was just discovered in Turkey:

Salman Hameed said...

Okay okay, you win. ;)

I will link it on the blog.


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