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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 (2) 2007

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A. Livingstone Smith

Histoire du décor à la roulette en Afrique subsaharienne

Journal of African Archaeology, Volume 5 (2), 2007, pages 189-216, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-10092

Résumé
Employée par de nombreuses populations d'Afrique subsaharienne actuelles et anciennes, le décor à la roulette a souvent été utilisé comme élément de datation ou comme marqueur culturel. La reconnaissance de cette technique ornementale en contexte archéologique, comme son évolution dans l'espace et le temps, est pourtant restée longtemps problématique. Dans cet article, je propose d'explorer la dimension historique de cette technique à l'échelle du continent africain. D'après les données disponibles, la roulette apparaît aux alentours de 4000 ans bp en Afrique de l'Ouest, puis se diffuse à l'Ouest jusqu'au Sénégal et à l'Est jusqu'à la région des Grands Lacs. Elle ne pénètre que très marginalement dans la zone forestière d'Afrique centrale. Une série d'effets de frontière sont mis en évidence et plusieurs éléments sont pris en compte pour interpréter certains aspects de la distribution: identité ethnolinguistique et sous-groupes sociaux. L'existence d'une relation entre la distribution de la roulette et l'histoire du sous-groupe des potières / forgerons est envisagée.

Abstract
Used both now and in the past over a large part of the African continent, roulette decoration has often been used by archaeologists as a social or chronological marker. Despite being so widespread, this type of pottery decoration has remained problematic both in terms of the identification of its many forms and of their histories. In this paper, I intend to survey the historical and spatial distribution of this technique at a continental scale. According to the available data, roulette decoration was apparently invented in West Africa around 4000 bp and spread as far as Senegal in the west and to the Great Lakes Region in the east. Its propagation in the central African rain forest is marginal. A series of frontier effects are highlighted and the influence of factors, such as ethnolinguistic affiliation and social subgrouping, that influence spatial and temporal distribution are considered. The relationship between the distribution of roulette decoration and the potters / blacksmiths caste is considered.




Keywords: archéologie africaine, décors, identité sociale, poterie, poterie africaine, roulette


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Shadreck Chirikure, South Africa
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Diane Gifford-Gonzalez, USA
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Gilbert Pwiti, Zimbabwe
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Robert Vernet, France
Lyn Wadley, South Africa

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