Coring Lake Fati and Settlement Archaeology of the Middle Niger Lakes Region
A two-part archaeological and limnological study of the Malian Lakes Region has revealed the high research potential of the region. The exploratory reconnaissance of the Gorbi Valley, on the eastern edge of Lake Fati, identified, mapped and sampled eight new sites. The results of the survey suggest a long duration occupation of the Gorbi Valley, as well as possible connections with the populations of the Inland Niger Delta and southeastern Mauritania. The Lake Fati core represents the first lake sediment core from the western Sahel. This 5.4 m sediment core contains a continuous record of lake mud from 10.43 to 4.66 kyr BP. Analysis of the core reveals that Al and Si abundances are decoupled following a deposition of 16 cm of sand at 4.5 ka BP, with Al decreasing and Si increasing rapidly. This period of sand deposition is significantly younger than that of the transition at 5.5 ka BP recorded in marine cores from ODP site 658, taken off the Mauritanian coast, potentially extending the timeframe in which dune systems were stable and lake systems were at their highstand. While highlighting the need for more localized climate chronologies and archaeological investigations, this study may shed light on circumstances surrounding the initial colonization and further development of the Lakes Region.
© 2015 Springer Science+Business Media New York. Published online: 26 June 2015. This research was funded by the Yale Climate and Energy Institute (YCEI). We would like to thank the other members of the research team: Douglas Park, Courtney Warren and Dr. Ali Ould Sidi, Roderick McIntosh for his unwavering support and our friends and colleagues at the Direction Nationale du Patrimoine Culturel and the Ministère de la Culture du Mali, our colleagues Jessamy Doman and Tanambelo Rasolondrainy for their keen eyes and honest revising, as well as the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. Research Permit number 03697166-88/09/MESRS/CNRST was provided by the Centre National de la Reserche Scientifique et Technologique, Mali. Also, many thanks go to the many villages in the Goundam region for welcoming us to do the field research for this study.