ASU researchers helped excavate a series of endangered cemeteries associated with the earliest inhabitants of the Sahara during what is known as the “Green Sahara Period.” During this time, the Sahara was much wetter than it is today and was home to numerous human communities living around lakes and along rivers that have long since disappeared.
We are interested in using archaeological methods to understand how these people lived and how they adjusted their lifestyles during the long term drying of the Sahara until this region was abandoned after it became too inhospitable for human occupation.
This project seeks to reconstruct lifestyle transitions during the African Humid Period. Focusing on a series of cemeteries in Niger, the project uses bioarchaeological methods to reconstruct aspects of diet, health and lifestyle during two time periods: an Early Holocene period associated with more humid conditions and foraging populations, and a Middle Holocene period associated with dryer conditions and the aggregation of more diverse communities at the site of these drying paleolakes. This project will provide new information on how human communities responded to aridification of the Sahara over the course of several thousand years.
Partners: University of Chicago
Previous funding by the National Science Foundation (two awards) and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research