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New Perspectives on the Ancient World: Stephen Dueppen

Tuesday, February 7
3:30-5:00 p.m.
McKenzie 375

Regional Networks and the Origins of Cities in Ancient West Africa

Cities emerged in the first millennium BC in the Inland Niger Delta of Mali, but the regional cultural and economic settings within which they developed are not well understood. Archaeological research in the Mouhoun Bend region of neighboring Burkina Faso spanning the first millennium BC and early first millennium AD indicates that interconnected networks of farming settlements were well-established in the greater region in the period prior to and during urban growth. This presentation will examine the social, religious, economic and political data from archaeological excavations in the Mouhoun Bend to provide new perspectives on the intercultural setting that enabled and shaped the more well-known urban societies in Mali. It suggests that understanding deeper histories throughout the region, including the development of possible marketplace nodes, provides new insights into the first millennium BC origins of urbanism. 

Stephen Dueppen is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Oregon. His primary research focuses on the last 3,000 years in West Africa, addressing diverse topics including technologies, religious practices, local and interregional economies, the development of institutionalized inequalities, egalitarian revolutions, and the effects of the Black Death pandemic. He is the author of Egalitarian Revolution in the Savanna: The Origins of a West African Political System and Divine Consumption: Sacrifice, Alliance-Building, and Making Ancestors in West Africa, in addition to numerous articles and book chapters.