Reconsidering the ‘Archaeology of Trees’ in African Archaeology
Dr Elgidius B. Ichumbaki (Ichu), Deputy Principal, College of Humanities, University of Dar es Salaam
Monday 10th Dec, 1pm, Seminar Rm (310), Irvine Building
A key issue of archaeological research in Africa is what constitutes an ‘archaeological site’. Is it defined by anthropogenic physical remains alone or does it extend into other forms of archive? Archaeologists continue to perceive ‘archaeological sites’ as locales that contain archaeological signatures for historical events and processes, including artefacts, ecofacts and features. Non-artefactual yet cultural phenomena such as trees, forests, hills and outcrops are rarely considered as material culture. Consequently, some interpretations of ‘archaeological sites’ and material remains at such sites do not fit into conventional ways of conceptualizing history. This talk will go beyond conventional thinking to focus on tree species that overtime assumes monumental sizes, a phenomenon that occurs with Ficus species across Africa, Asia, Australia and America. Interactions between local communities with baobab trees (Adansonia digitata) from the remote past to modern times in Bagamoyo, Tanzania are presented and it is postulated that as they grow, some trees become ‘living archaeological substances’ and are markers for deep-time spirituality as well as heritage identity.
Dr E. Ichumbaki (Ichu) is a Senior Lecturer in Archaeology and Heritage Studies at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He obtained his BA in Culture and Heritage and MA in Archaeology from the University of Dar es Salaam in 2008 and 2012 respectively. His doctoral research, completed in 2015, was conducted within a ‘sandwich model’ between the University of Dar es Salaam and Roskilde University (Denmark). Ichu’s research and publications focuses on monumentality, spirituality and indigenous heritage of eastern Africa.