Photo overlooking the totem pole in the Pitt Rivers Museum


During the Final Honour School, students delve more deeply into the subject areas which have been introduced to them in the first year. They will also decide on which three options they would like to take from the following list of 30 subjects. One option is studied in the second year, two are studied in the third year.

Farming & Early States in Sub-Saharan Africa

Despite the extensive research conducted there over the last three decades, the archaeology of sub-Saharan Africa is still largely unknown to most western audiences. This course focuses on two key processes in world prehistory over the last 10,000 years; the development and spread of systems of food-production and the formation of state societies. These processes are examined using data from several regions of Africa south of the Sahara in order to illustrate the diversity of the African experience. In addition to this comparative focus, particular themes examined will include the relevance of oral tradition and linguistics to reconstructions of prehistory, the symbolic role of metallurgy in many African societies and the extent to which influences from outside Africa were of importance to the continent’s development.

 The course of eight lectures outlined below proves a chronological and thematic framework for the option, with eight tutorials offering an opportunity to explore particular issues in greater depth.

 All the basic reading for this course is in English, some knowledge of French is necessary for those wishing to investigate original papers on some aspects of West and central African prehistory.

 This course can be taken with, or independently of, African hunter-gatherers. 

Last update on 09/12/16 by Robyn Mason.

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