Before Farming

Prehistory and the present

palaeoenvironments in the northern Congo Basin

Before Farming (2011), 2011, (2), 1–14.

Abstract

The Congo Basin contains a stunning array of cultural and biotic diversity housed in some of the largest undeveloped tracts of rain forest in the world. Although the origins of these unique environments and their populations are a topic of great interest, palaeoenvironmental and archaeological records from the central forest block are underrepresented in the academic literature. This dearth of evidence limits our ability to evaluate the influence of prehistoric populations on Guineo-Congolian forest structure and composition. Understanding prehistoric human-environment dynamics may yield important clues about the process of prehistoric cultural and demographic changes in the region, as changes in technology and subsistence may be linked with shifts in vegetation cover visible in palaeoenvironmental records. Analysis of pollen, microscopic charcoal, and carbon isotopes from two Late Holocene sedimentary records collected in the Ngotto Forest Reserve, Central African Republic shows clear shifts in Late Holocene climates and human impacts. This record is unique because it captures a fine-grained record of Late Holocene environmental change and complements archaeological survey in the region. Documenting forest change through the Holocene provides a crucial context for understanding long-term ecological responses to climate change in addition to clarifying hypotheses regarding population and culture change in the Congo Basin.

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Author details

Kiahtipes, Christopher

Lupo, Karen

Schmitt, David

Ndanga, Jean-Paul

Jones, John

Lee, Raymond