September 18, 2008
ANTH 350: Archaeologies of Africa
African Archaeology on the Web
In compiling a comparative survey of the resources for African archaeology on the
Internet, it is necessary to select a broad range of samples. This analysis contrasts four, from
different geographic zones and source types. The first is a scientific archaeobotany article
analyzing the evidence for African bananas having originated in Cameroon. I compare this to a
forum on Yahoo! Groups for Egyptology and Egyptomania, the site for the South African
Archaeological Society, and finally, the website for Kenyan Safari Packages—a company that
offers different safari packages, including one that focuses on archaeology. Specifically, I
examine their varying degrees of professionalism, and the unique ways in which they
disseminate their information.
The article from Cameroon—
Africa’s earliest bananas?—
was written by B. Julius Lejju,
Peter Robertshaw, and David Taylor (Elsevier B.V. 2005). It is the result of a collaboration
between African and non-African experts (Elsevier B.V. 2005). Seeing as it is now a part of the
ScienceDirect database, its professionalism can hardly be called into question.
The dissemination of the information these three scientists have published, however, is
extremely interesting to investigate.
Africa’s earliest bananas?
has been cited in six different
publications—but not exactly where one might expect (Elsevier B.V. 2008). A 2008 article in
, for example, cites this research (Elsevier B.V. 2008). So, too, does the
Brazilian Journal of Plant Physiology
, and two articles discussing Eastern Africa (Elsevier B.V.
2008). On one hand, this could be a positive indication; African research is being found useful
globally, which means that it is being read worldwide. The fact that West African research,
however, is being applied almost everywhere except West Africa implies that little further
research is being performed on this topic, in this area. One analysis on the topic should not
mean the end of inquiry. It is extremely telling to me that there are no further studies done on
bananas in West Africa that cite this source; I find it logical to assume that little further study has
therefore been done at all. This particular case study would appear to indicate that African
archaeological research, once in the Western scientific realm, might have the effect of seeming
to release scientists from the responsibility to continue pursuing a particular topic.