Invited_talk abstract details

Distribution and orientation of stone monuments of the Sahara : space and time evolution
Gauthier Yves & Christine


Lithic monuments, be they funerary or not, are important cultural markers and as such help to deciphers the population pattern and its variations through ages. Since it covers millions of square kilometres and very different geographic environments, various groups, with possibly very different monuments and rites, are expected to have occupied the Sahara desert. In this respect, the situation is quite different on either side of the Ténéré (Niger). Except for the Tibesti mountains, monuments are almost totally absent in the eastern regions, beyond 16°E, and at least 95% are registered west of this line. While some of these stone monuments have a narrow distribution area, others, on the contrary, are known from the Ténéré (Niger) to the Atlantic Ocean. Data compiled for six different types reveal different orientation rules with time and location. The "keyhole" monuments seem to have a luni-solar alignment as opposed to a more random distribution for rectangular tumuli for instance. The number of monuments registered so far (6-7000) is large enough for regional analyses in order to detect possible space variations.