Abstract: Genetics and African prehistory


There has been less archaeology done in Africa than on any other continent, and the prehistory of large areas remains more or less unknown.  Progress in historical genetics in Africa, particularly over the last decade, offers an extremely powerful way of looking at population movements and contacts in the past, and the comparison of archaeological and genetic data offers the prospects of a vast improvement in our understanding of African prehistory. At the same time, there are dangers involved in such interdisciplinary undertakings: archaeological and genetic data offer insights into different aspects of human history, and each approach has its own strengths and weaknesses. This lecture will offer a discussion of these issues, with examples drawn from the Lake Chad Basin and other parts of the continent.


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic (for lay reader):

MacEachern, S. 2000,  Genes, tribes, and African history. Current Anthropology 41(3):357-384.

MacEachern, S. 2007, Where in Africa does Africa start? Identity, genetics and African Studies from the Sahara to Darfur. Journal of Social Archaeology 7(3):393-412.

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