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10 January 2017
Polish archaeological research in Burkina Faso

Polish scientists have spent years studying communities in Burkina Faso, a land-locked country in West Africa, north of Ghana. During October and November, archaeologists chose locations to excavate in the north of the country, inhabited by the Kurumba - people that arrived there a few hundred years ago, perhaps from what is now Mali or Niger to the north or northeast.
     The Kurumba community numbers around 300,000 people, with a very extensive mythology. According to tradition, their ancestors arrived in the northern part of Burkina Faso in an "iron house". On arrival they subjugated the local Berba people and created their own kingdom. In the eighteenth century the Kurumba were dominated by the Mossi, but have maintained the old chiefly system headed by the king. Researchers know all the rulers of the Kurumba, but not for how many years each ruled.
     Surface surveys for objects such as fragments of pottery yielded artefacts including flint tools and waste resulting from processing flint, from between 50,000 and 15,000 years ago - one of the oldest known traces of human presence in the country.
     Archaeologists also focused on Damfelenga Dangomde, a long abandoned artificial mound formed from the accumulated remains of settlement. Until now it was only known that the site was inhabited until the end of the nineteenth century, when the Kurumba moved to the contemporary capital city.
     Archaeologists were surprised to discover a necropolis of burial mounds of stone and earth approximately 1300 years old in the vicinity of the settlement - the largest nearly 2 meters high - in a place previously thought to be an abandoned village. Scientists are hoping they will be allowed to carry out excavations within this royal necropolis, located next to the legendary "iron house" - an area closed to tourists and subject to local taboo.

Edited from Science & Scholarship in Poland (2 January 2017)

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