ant2011 0107a.pdf

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L. Laporte1 , H. Bocoum2 , J-P. Cros3 , A. Delvoye4 , R. Bernard5 ,
M. Diallo6 , M. Diop6 , A. Kane6 , V. Dartois7 , M. Lejay7 , F. Bertin1 &
L. Quesnel1
The World Heritage Site of Wanar in Senegal
features 21 stone circles, remarkable not least
because they were erected in the twelfth and
thirteenth century AD, when Islam ruled the
Indian Ocean and Europe was in its Middle
Ages. The state of preservation has benefited
the exemplary investigation currently carried
out by a French-Senegalese team, which we
are pleased to report here. The site began
as a burial ground to which monumental
stones were added, perhaps echoing the form
of original funerary houses. Found in a
neighbouring field were scoops left from the
cutting out of the cylindrical monoliths from
surface rock. While the origins of Wanar lie
in a period of state formation, the monuments
are shown to have had a long ritual use. The investigation not only provides a new context for
one of the most important sites in West Africa but the precise determination of the sequence
and techniques used at Wanar offers key pointers for the understanding of megalithic structures
Keywords: Senegal, protohistoric, second millennium AD, megaliths, mortuary ritual


UMR 6566, CNRS, Bat 24–25, Campus de Beaulieu, Universit´e de Rennes 1, Rennes, 35042 France
Laboratoire d’Arch´eologie, Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire, BP 206, Dakar, S´en´egal
UMR 7041, 5 Rue du 14 juillet, Villeneuve-les-B´eziers, H´erault 34420, France
Centre d’Histoire de l’Art et d’Arch´eologie de Michelet, Universit´e Paris I, 3 Rue Michelet, Paris 75006, France
INRAP, 122 Rue de la Bugellerie, Poitiers, Vienne 86000, France
Universit´e Cheikh Anta Diop, BP 5005, Dakar, S´en´egal
Universit´e de Rennes 1, Rennes 35042, France
Author for correspondence (Email: Translated by Madeleine Hummler

C Antiquity Publications Ltd.

ANTIQUITY 86 (2012): 409–427



Megalithic monumentality in Africa:
from graves to stone circles at Wanar,