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Welcome to African Archaeology!

The Journal of African Archaeology is an international peer-reviewed periodical appearing half-yearly since 2003. It publishes original papers addressing recent research and developments in African archaeology and related disciplines. The journal's main purpose is to provide scholars and students with a new pan-African forum for discussing relevant topics on the cultural dynamics of past African societies.

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Vol. 5 (1) 2007

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A.F.C. Holl, H. Bocoum, S. Dueppen & D. Gallagher

Switching mortuary codes and ritual programs: the Double-Monolith-Circle from Sine-Ngayene, Senegal

Journal of African Archaeology, Vol. 5 (1), 2007, pages 127-148, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-10088

Abstract
This paper addresses a number of connected issues revolving around mortuary practices in the Senegambian megalithic traditions, through the lenses of the intriguing double-monolith-circle #27 of Sine-Ngayene, also known as Diallombere. Despite more than a century of archaeological investigation, the diversity of Senegambian megalithic features is still very poorly understood. Most of the cases investigated so far have been claimed to feature single or multiple simultaneous primary burials. The presence of  incomplete skeletons is generally explained by  poor preservation due to soils' corrosive effects. Monument #27, located at the center of the Sine-Ngayene cemetery, presents an unexpectedly long use-life, characterized by shifting ways of arranging humans' skeletal remains — mortuary codes switching — as well as their associated ritual use of material culture, within the general context of secondary burial practices. Four distinct and successive cycles, spanning over ca 700 years (AD 700 – AD 1350), have been identified and the construction sequence of this complex monument deciphered.

Résumé
Cet article examine un certain nombre de thèmes s'articulant autour des pratiques funéraires ayant engendré le paysage mégalithique de la Sénégambie. Cet examen est effectué par le biais d'une analyse détaillée de l'énigmatique double cercle de monolithes (monument 27) qui se trouve au centre du cimetière mégalithique de Sine-Ngayene [aussi connu sous l'appellation locale de Diallombéré]. Les raisons de la diversité des monuments mégalithiques de Sénégambie demeurent obscures, en dépit de plus d'un siècle de recherches archéologiques. L'inhumation primaire (simple ou multiple) et en général simultanée est la seule méthode ayant eu cours d'après les conceptions courantes. Les ossements humains isolés et les squelettes incomplets sont expliqués par la conservation différentielle due à la nature très corrosive des sédiments. Le monument 27, situé au centre du cimetière de Sine-Ngayene, présente une séquence d'utilisation de près de 700 ans (AD 700 – AD 1350), rythmée par des changements dans l'arrangement des ossements humains dans un contexte d'inhumation secondaire, en parallèle avec l'organisation des éléments de la culture matérielle. Quatre cycles successifs ont été identifiés et leurs implications sont discutées dans cet article.




Keywords: megalithism, mortuary program, ritual performance, Senegambia


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