oaioai:persee:article/sfhom_1768-7144_1981_mel_5_1_930

Man and a Lake

Abstract

Raymond Mauny represents an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the past that is particularly necessary in Africa where history and prehistory are so inextricably mixed. It is our task to reconstruct the past using all the sources of information available but the type of reconstruction that we produce will depend on the «models» or conceptual structures that we invent to explain the past. Models that emphasize archaeological artifacts rather than Man’s natural history are now widely rejected and if we wish to see how Man has reacted to the differing environments in which he has found himself we must adopt a model emphasizing human ecology : particularly subsistence economies. In this paper I have attempted to use the Nigerian shores of Lake Chad as an example area : I present a reconstruction of Man’s natural history throughout his contact with that area, from the earliest evidence that we have, down to the present day. The area is part of the transcontinental savanna belt but its conditions are considerably ameliorated by the presence of Lake Chad and of its drainage basin. The complex interplay of stress and opportunity that result have created conditions that have radically affected human settlement : causing continued occupation of some sites and successive abandonment of others. There were probably people in the general area at least 50,000 years ago but the bulk of our evidence dates from only about 3000 years ago when settlement of the firki plains took place as Lake Chad shrank in response to increasingly dry conditions. The archaeological and historical record show how Man gradually adjusted his subsistence to a fine balance with the various environments of the area ; establishing a tradition of pastoralism and grain growing that has persisted till the present time and that modern development projects can only ignore at their peril. past. Models that emphasize archaeological artifacts rather than Man’s natural history are now widely rejected and if we wish to see how Man has reacted to the differing environments in which he has found himself we must adopt a model emphasizing human ecology : particularly subsistence economies. In this paper I have attempted to use the Nigerian shores of Lake Chad as an example area : I present a reconstruction of Man’s natural history throughout his contact with that area, from the earliest evidence that we have, down to the present day. The area is part of the transcontinental savanna belt but its conditions are considerably ameliorated by the presence of Lake Chad and of its drainage basin. The complex interplay of stress and opportunity that result have created condi¬ tions that have radically affected human settlement : causing continued occupa¬ tion of some sites and successive abandonment of others. There were probably people in the general area at least 50,000 years ago but the bulk of our evidence dates from only about 3000 years ago when settlement of the firki plains took place as Lake Chad shrank in response to increasingly dry conditions. The archaeo¬ logical and historical record show how Man gradually adjusted his subsistence to a fine balance with the various environments of the area ; establishing a tradition of pastoralism and grain growing that has persisted till the present time and that modern development projects can only ignore at their peril.Raymond Mauny symbolise l’approche interdisciplinaire de l’étude du passé, ce qui est particulièrement nécessaire en Afrique où l’histoire et la préhistoire sont si inextricablement mêlées. Notre tâche est de reconstruire le passé en utilisant toutes les sources d’information disponibles, mais le type de reconstruction que nous produirons dépendra des «modèles» ou des structures conceptuelles que nous inventerons pour expliquer le passé. Les systèmes qui mettent l’accent sur des objets archéologiques façonnés plutôt que sur l’histoire naturelle de l’Homme, sont maintenant largement rejetés et si nous souhaitons voir comment l’Homme a réagi aux divers environnements dans lesquels il s’est trouvé, nous devons adopter un système s’appuyant sur l’écologie humaine : en particulier les économies de subsistance. Dans cet article j’ai essayé d’utiliser comme exemple spatial les rivages nigérians du lac Tchad : je présente une reconstruction de l’histoire naturelle de l’Homme à travers ses rapports avec cette zone depuis les premiers témoignages que nous possédons jusqu’à maintenant. Cette zone est une partie de la ceinture des savanes, mais ses conditions sont considérablement améliorées par la présence du lac Tchad et de son bassin de drainage. L’interaction complexe d’éléments défavorables et favorables qui en résulte, a créé des conditions qui ont radicalement influencé l’installation humaine : causant l’occupation continue de certains sites et l’abandon successif d’autres. Il y a au moins 50.000 ans, la zone a été probablement habitée, mais l’ensemble de nos sources date seulement de 3000 ans, lorsque l’occupation des plaines firki a pris place à cause d’un rétrécissement du lac Tchad du à une augmentation de la sécheresse. L’information archéologique et historique montre comment l’Homme a graduellement adapté sa subsistance, en l’équilibrant avec les divers environnements de cette zone ; établissant une tradition pastorale et céréalière qui a persisté jusqu’à présent et que les projets modernes de développement ne peuvent ignorer qu’à leur détriment.Connah Graham. Man and a Lake. In: 2000 ans d’histoire africaine. Le sol, la parole et l’écrit. Mélanges en hommage à Raymond Mauny. Tome I. Paris : Société française d'histoire d'outre-mer, 1981. pp. 161-178. (Bibliothèque d'histoire d'outre-mer. Études, 5-6-1

Similar works

Full text

thumbnail-image

Périodiques Scientifiques en Édition Électronique

Provided original full text link
oaioai:persee:article/sfhom_1768-7144_1981_mel_5_1_930Last time updated on 9/3/2019

Having an issue?

Is data on this page outdated, violates copyrights or anything else? Report the problem now and we will take corresponding actions after reviewing your request.