Friday, July 22, 2011

The Archaeology of Africa: Food, Metals and Towns

Thurstan Shaw, Editor

First published in 1993 by Routledge
11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE

Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge
29 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001

I'm enjoying this definitive reference on Saharan and West African prehistory.  It's the best reference I've found so far on describing the climatic fluctuations in the Sahara and West Africa that have influenced population movements and the development of sedentism.  Some of the chapters are available on Google Books:

Chapter 10, authored by Wilma Wetterstrom, discusses the transition from hunting and gathering in the Nile valley to horticulture.

Chapter 11 discusses the emergence of horticulture in the Sahara.  The chapter is authored by Alfred Muzzolini.  He discusses the impact of the Post-Aterian hyperarid phase between 18,000 and 12,000 ya.

In Chapter 12, Bassey W. Andah examines the early farming traditions of West Africa.

Chapter 13 is an examination of the Kintampo complex and development of sedentism in sub-Sahelian West Africa.  The chapter is authored by James Anquandah, Chairman of the Research Unit of the National Slave Route Project of the Ministry of Tourism and Diasporan Relations (Ghana); Professor of Archaeology at the University of Ghana, Legon.

Chapter 14 explores the antecedents to the Kintampo complex in West Africa, taking a view from Central Ghana.  It is authored by Ann Brower Stahl.

The chapters are replete with excellent maps and drawings.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

MtDNA and Y-chromosome DNA in the Nigerian Cross River Region, Ghana and Cameroon

Veeramah et al

This paper contains extensive data sets of mtDNA and y-chromosome DNA for Nigerian Cross River populations, Nigerian Igbo, Cameroon and Ghanaian populations.  Relative homogeneity of Cross River and Ghanaian populations is demonstrated, compared to Cameroon populations.

Chad Basin mtDNA

The blog For what they were... we are brings attention to this important paper on Chad Basin mtDNA population structure. 

MtDNA Diversity of Ghana: a forensic and phylogeographic view

Fendt et al
Forensic Science International: Genetics
Volume 6, Issue 2, March 2012, Pages 244-249


West Africa is characterized by a migration history spanning more than 150,000 years. Climate changes but also political circumstances were responsible for several early but also recent population movements that shaped the West African mitochondrial landscape. The aim of the study was to establish a Ghanaian mtDNA dataset for forensic purposes and to investigate the diversity of the Ghanaian population sample with respect to surrounding populations. We sequenced full mitochondrial control regions of 193 Akan people from Ghana and excluded two apparently close maternally related individuals due to preceding kinship testing. The remaining dataset comprising 191 sequences was applied as etalon for quasi-median network analysis and was subsequently combined with 99 additional control region sequences from surrounding West African countries. All sequences were incorporated into the EMPOP database enriching the severely underrepresented African mtDNA pool. For phylogeographic considerations, the Ghanaian haplotypes were compared to those of 19 neighboring populations comprising a total number of 6198 HVS1 haplotypes. We found extensive genetic admixture between the Ghanaian lineages and those from adjacent populations diminishing with geographical distance. The extent of genetic admixture reflects the long but also recent history of migration waves within West Africa mainly caused by changing environmental conditions. Also, evidence for potential socio-economical influences such as trade routes is provided by the occurrence of U6b and U6d sequences found in Dubai but also in Tunisia leading to the African West Coast via Mauritania and Senegal but also via Niger, Nigeria to Cameroon.

Population comparisons

"Ghana sequences clustered together with those populations being geographically closest (Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso) which could reflect recent maternal gene flow and admixture among those areas. Also, geographically more distant populations clustered together such as Tunisia, Morocco, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and Egypt as well as Ethiopia and Kenya, but also Senegal and Mauritania."

The data suggests that West African women of the Niger and Volta River basins cluster together genetically.