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Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association

3 Grass, Water, Salt, Copper, and Others: Pastoralists’ Territorial Strategies in Central Sudan

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ABSTRACT

This chapter discusses the territorial tactics and settlement strategies devised by pastoral-nomadic societies in two areas of the Central Sudan. The Eghazer basin (Niger) case study is entirely archaeological and considers processes that took place between 3000 and 800 B.C.E. The Houlouf region case study is ethnoarchaeological and looks at the site-location strategies, patterns of settlements, and structures of Shuwa-Arab villages and camps in the Sahelian margins of Northern Cameroon. I explore how these two pastoral-nomadic societies colonized new territories and carved out new and original cultural landscapes, and then compare the two cases. With the ethnic mix of the Eghazer basin being unknown, bounded territories controlled by larger “tribal” units are a possibility. In the Houlouf region, Shuwa-Arab pastoralists were initially constrained to a tributary relationship, a situation that changed radically during the past two decades with Shuwa-Arab access to regional chieftainship. [territories, pastoralists, Central Sudan, Eghazer basin, Houlouf region]

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