One part of the project is concerned with excavations of large settlement sites in a limited region south of Lake Chad. Predominant soils in the area are heavy clays, locally called "firki" by the Kanuri, or "firgi" by the Shuwa-Arabs, both today being the dominant ethnic groups. The clay soils were presumably build up when the retreating lake formed the so called Ngelewa-Beach-Ridge and lagoonal deposits accumulated at the exterior part of the ridge. Up to today vast areas become inaccessible during the rainy season because of floods, thus human settlements are restricted to dry sand dunes. As space for settlements is limited, villages remained on one spot for centuries leading to the accumulation of mounds, similar to the 'tells' in the Levant, southeastern Europe or the inland Niger delta.
Settlement Mound of Mutuwu, Kala LGA, Borno State,Nigeria
|As early as the 13th century cal AD the existence of
local kingdoms and of walled villages or towns are reported which are attributed
to the legendary "So-people", believed
by many researchers to be the antecedents of the Kotoko
which today live in the northernmost part of Cameroon and form partly independant
traditional city states.
|The archaeological meaning of this specific part of the
Chad Basin became evident through the work of Jean-Paul
Lebeuf for the Cameroonian side and Graham
Connah, the pioneer of archaeological research in Borno.
As it is well known, Connah surveyed
the area intensively and excavated two of the settlement mounds: Kursakata