Charcoal, fruits and seeds of woody plants have been studied from a
settlement mound in the Sahel of Burkina Faso. The archaeobotanical
results provide information on economy and environmental conditions at
the periphery of the medieval kingdom of Songhai at around 1000 A.D.
Millet (Pennisetum americanum) was the basic crop, cultivated in fields
in which also grew useful trees (park savannas). Besides millet, fruits
of the park savanna trees and other wild woody plants were an important
part of the diet. Stratigraphical changes in the charcoal diagram
indicate that millet production was intensified and the park savanna
system established in the course of mound formation. The charcoal
results show that the vegetation around 1000 A.D. was more diverse than
today, containing many Sahelo-Sudanian elements which cannot be found in
the area any more. This indicates slightly higher precipitation than
today but also less severe human impact.
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