Excavations at Karkarichinkat

 

   

    In January 2006 excavations were conducted at Karkarichinkat Nord and Sud in the Malian Sahara with the aim of elucidating the transition to food production in the region during the Late Stone Age (LSA).  One component of the research project was a bioarchaeological study of the human remains at the site.  This study involved the isotopic analysis of human remains which was undertaken in order to assess the relative contributions of fish, cattle, ovi-caprids, and domestic millet to human subsistence.The results of this research is to be published in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.

Filed maxillary incisors from a female skeleton excavated at Karkarichinkat Nord.  This is the earliest evidence for this type of modification in the world.

    In addition to uncovering evidence for the exploitation of C4 grasses, probably domestic millet, the bioarchaeological investigation also unearthed the earliest evidence for intentional dental modification in West Africa.  The  practice of modify the human body for aesthetic reasons is close to being a human universal and dental modification is one of the most widespread practices. Although there exists abundant historic and ethnographic evidence documenting dental modification throughout the African continent, we have until now had little evidence for the antiquity of the practice.  Our discoveries at Karkarichinkat Nord reveal that Africans were modifying their teeth for aesthetic ends as early as the  3rd millennium BC.  These findings will be published in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology.