An archaeological approach on early interactions between hunter-gatherers and sedentary food-producers in Western Central Africa

Start - End 
2018 - 2022 (ongoing)
Department of Archaeology
Research Focus 
Research Period 
Research Region 
Additional tags 
contact archaeology
first farmers
last hunter-gatherers



The question of prehistoric contact between indigenous hunter-gatherers and the first sedentary communities in Western Central Africa has so far mainly been addressed by linguists, geneticists and historians in relation to the Bantu Expansion, which is the initial migration of Bantu-speaking communities across sub-Saharan Africa. Unlike in other parts of the continent and the world, archaeologists have never systematically studied the subject in the equatorial rainforest. However, archaeological evidence for this region does exist, which can be revisited through the lens of knowledge from other disciplines and other parts of the world. This is exactly what we will do in the current project, which targets the period between 4000 and 2000 years ago and whose study
area comprises countries such as Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Central African Republic, and the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo DRC and Angola. Our multifaceted approach will combine (1) a literature study to develop a new theory of contact archaeology, (2) an innovative contact-oriented reanalysis of existing archaeological collections including stone artefacts and the earliest ceramics of the region and (3) new surveys and excavations in order to obtain supplementary archaeological evidence for early contact between hunter-gatherers and sedentary food producers in Western Central Africa.




Phd Student(s)


Els Cornelissen

Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren