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1900 BP, though associations with the local introduction of pottery are not clearcut. As with recent dates suggesting that pottery appeared in southeastern southern Africa several hundred years before the oldest known Iron Age villages, this raises the possibility that ceramics were adopted ahead of, or by different means from, the local establishment of food-producing communities and encourages archaeologists to consider the active roles played by hunter-gatherers in the development of pastoralist and farming societies.

There is no lack of theoretical issues relevant to ‘mainstream’ archaeology in the study of West Africa’s past, and nor are these of the ‘dry as dust’ variety. Commenting on the controversy over the dating of the earliest pottery in the Sahara and the Nile valley, Posnansky and McIntosh remarked in 1976 that this was ‘a complicated, and often emotional, problem’. Such problems are not rare, and the arguments advanced become emotionally loaded whenever any particular reconstruction of the past can be shown to favour either importation from outside the region or autochthonous development within it.

J. McIntosh. 2. Earliest settlement. In northern Chad an AUSTRALOPITHECUS mandible and upper premolar were discovered by a team under the direction of Michel Brunet in 1995–6 at a locality 45 km east of Koro Toro (see AFRICA 1). These finds were associated with apparently undisturbed fauna in a geological context which suggests that this was a lakeside environment. 5 million years ago. The hominid remains were at first compared to A. Afarensis, but are now recognized as a separate species ‘Australopithecus bahrelghazali’.

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