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Gobero Archaeological Project

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This research focuses on a series of Early and Middle Holocene cemeteries (circa 10,000-5000 years ago) from the southern Sahara Desert (Niger) where a unique record of human life and death was preserved. The project combines ongoing fieldwork with extensive archaeological and bioarcheological lab analyses.

The Gobero Archaeological Project is a partnership between Arizona State University and the University of Chicago that involves over a dozen international collaborators across the fields of geology, archaeology, chemistry, and paleontology. The research focuses on a series of Early and Middle Holocene cemeteries (circa 10,000-5000 years ago) from the southern Sahara Desert (Niger) where a unique record of human life and death was preserved. The project combines ongoing fieldwork with extensive archaeological and bioarcheological lab analyses of human and non-human skeletal and dental remains, ceramics, lithics and soils to reconstruct the sequence of human occupations in a region that is now desolate and uninhabited.

In addition, we seek to reconstruct the nature of early Saharan communities in terms of their mortuary practices, social organization, life courses and health experiences. A key component of the work is evaluating the transition to food production where, in North Africa, the Neolithic model is reversed: populations become more mobile and adopted cattle and caprine pastoralism well before agriculture. The project’s results are contextualized within the wider Saharan interaction sphere and linked to ongoing climatic reconstructions of the Holocene Sahara.

Publications:

Christopher M. Stojanowski and Kelly J. Knudson. 2014. “Changing Patterns of Mobility as a Response to Climatic Deterioration and Aridification in the Middle Holocene Southern Sahara.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology 154(1): 79-93.

CM Stojanowski, KM Johnson. 2011. Labial canine talon cusp from the Early Holocene site of Gobero, central Sahara Desert, Niger. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 21: 391-406.

CM Stojanowski, CL Carver. 2011. Inference of emergent cattle pastoralism in the central Sahara Desert based on localized hypoplasia of the primary canine. International Journal of Paleopathology 1:89-97.

CM Stojanowski, KJ Knudson. 2011. Biogeochemical inference of mobility of Early Holocene fisher-foragers from the southern Sahara Desert. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 146:49-61.

PC Sereno, EAA Garcea, H Jousse, CM Stojanowski, J-F Saliege, A Maga, O Ide, KJ Knudson, AM Mercuri, TW Stafford, TG Kaye, C Giraudi, I Massamba N'siala, E Cocca, HM Moots. 2008. Lakeside cemeteries in the Sahara: 5000 years of Holocene population and environmental change. PLoS ONE 3(8):1-22.

Links:

Funding Sources:

  • Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research
  • National Science Foundation
  • Wenner-Gren Foundation

Partnerships:
The University of Chicago   
The National Geographic Society   
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Christopher Stojanowski, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Kelly J. Knudson, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Jane Buikstra, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change