Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM
NEW RECORD OF HUNDREDS OF ANCIENT KRAAL-LIKE STONE CIRCLES IN SOUTHERN ALGERIA, AND THEIR CULTURAL AND TEMPORAL IMPLICATIONS FOR NEOLITHIC CATTLE PASTORALISM IN WEST AFRICA
Utilizing satellite imagery, we recorded the locations of 706 hitherto undescribed stone circles bordering two of the upper tributaries of Wadi Azaouak in extreme southern
Algeria. Circle architecture closely resembles that of pastoralist kraals of sub-Saharan Africa, in which the periphery of the large circle is made up, in whole or in part, by smaller circles. The circles generally occur in groups of 2-5, they reach up to 120m in diameter, invariably are dispersed atop hills or benches bordering the wadis, and are—in rare instances—associated with closed cairns or open (ring) cairns and/or horn-shaped stone constructions described elsewhere in this session. In sequencing the relative temporal ages of the horn-shaped structures and the stone circles, it was observed that, in several instances, horn-shaped structures were incorporated in the construction of the kraal-like circles. The relationship between the two types of structures suggests that the horn-shaped structues predate the kraal-like circles. Rock art (e.g., in the Tassili n Ajjer) and excavations (e.g., at Um Muhuggaig, Libya) indicate that Saharan cattle herding was established by 7000 BP and continued until extreme desertification set in, about 5500-5000 BP. We suggest that the cattle pastoralists that built the horn-shaped stone constructions may have been succeeded—perhaps in continuity—by more sedentary kraal builders that placed less emphasis on symbolic stone constructions.