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Archaeological charcoals as archives for firewood preferences and vegetation composition during the late Holocene in the southern Mayumbe, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

Wannes Hubau UGent, Jan Van den Bulcke UGent, Koen Bostoen UGent, Bernard-Olivier Clist UGent, Alexandre Livingstone-Smith, Nele Defoirdt, Florias Mees, Laurent Nsenga, Joris Van Acker UGent and Hans Beeckman (2014) VEGETATION HISTORY AND ARCHAEOBOTANY. 23(5). p.591-606
abstract
Analysis of charcoal from an archaeological assemblage near the Lukula community located at the southernmost boundary of the Mayombe forest (Bas-Congo, DRC) yielded 30 taxa used as firewood between 1,200 and 700 cal. b.p. Local people mentioned 71 taxa preferred for use nowadays. The identified taxa belong either to mature rainforest, pioneer forest, regenerating forest or woodland savanna, indicating that ancient and current local populations gathered firewood in several different forest types. Modern firewood preferences do not seem to agree with the archaeobotanical composition. Also, linguistic evidence does not indicate a long exploitation history for all of the recorded taxa. Furthermore, no particular wood qualities such as wood density, calorific value or magical or medicinal properties seem to determine the Lukula assemblage, which was probably composed of waste material from various activities which required different specific firewood characteristics. As such, taxa composition is not biased by human selection, suggesting that it reflects the surrounding environment, which was characterised by mature rainforest with patches of regenerating forest and open vegetation types. Unlike the origin of present-day forest-savanna mosaics from human activity, fragmentation around 1,000 cal. b.p. may have been provoked by a well-known climatic event coinciding with the Medieval Climate Anomaly, which undoubtedly had a significant impact on Central African forest composition.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (original)
publication status
published
subject
keyword
CAMEROON, BP, WOOD, CALIBRATION, FUELWOOD, Firewood preference, Charcoal identification, Central Africa, Forest fragmentation, Archaeobotany, CLIMATIC CHANGES, LAND-USE, RAIN-FOREST, WESTERN EQUATORIAL AFRICA, AGE CENTRAL-AFRICA
journal title
VEGETATION HISTORY AND ARCHAEOBOTANY
volume
23
issue
5
pages
591 - 606
Web of Science type
Article
Web of Science id
000340522800010
ISSN
1617-6278
DOI
10.1007/s00334-013-0415-1
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
A1
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
id
5704469
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-5704469
date created
2014-09-17 19:13:48
date last changed
2016-12-19 15:38:57
@article{5704469,
  abstract     = {Analysis of charcoal from an archaeological assemblage near the Lukula community located at the southernmost boundary of the Mayombe forest (Bas-Congo, DRC) yielded 30 taxa used as firewood between 1,200 and 700 cal. b.p. Local people mentioned 71 taxa preferred for use nowadays. The identified taxa belong either to mature rainforest, pioneer forest, regenerating forest or woodland savanna, indicating that ancient and current local populations gathered firewood in several different forest types. Modern firewood preferences do not seem to agree with the archaeobotanical composition. Also, linguistic evidence does not indicate a long exploitation history for all of the recorded taxa. Furthermore, no particular wood qualities such as wood density, calorific value or magical or medicinal properties seem to determine the Lukula assemblage, which was probably composed of waste material from various activities which required different specific firewood characteristics. As such, taxa composition is not biased by human selection, suggesting that it reflects the surrounding environment, which was characterised by mature rainforest with patches of regenerating forest and open vegetation types. Unlike the origin of present-day forest-savanna mosaics from human activity, fragmentation around 1,000 cal. b.p. may have been provoked by a well-known climatic event coinciding with the Medieval Climate Anomaly, which undoubtedly had a significant impact on Central African forest composition.},
  author       = {Hubau, Wannes and Van den Bulcke, Jan and Bostoen, Koen and Clist, Bernard-Olivier and Livingstone-Smith, Alexandre and Defoirdt, Nele and Mees, Florias and Nsenga, Laurent and Van Acker, Joris and Beeckman, Hans},
  issn         = {1617-6278},
  journal      = {VEGETATION HISTORY AND ARCHAEOBOTANY},
  keyword      = {CAMEROON,BP,WOOD,CALIBRATION,FUELWOOD,Firewood preference,Charcoal identification,Central Africa,Forest fragmentation,Archaeobotany,CLIMATIC CHANGES,LAND-USE,RAIN-FOREST,WESTERN EQUATORIAL AFRICA,AGE CENTRAL-AFRICA},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {5},
  pages        = {591--606},
  title        = {Archaeological charcoals as archives for firewood preferences and vegetation composition during the late Holocene in the southern Mayumbe, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00334-013-0415-1},
  volume       = {23},
  year         = {2014},
}

Chicago
Hubau, Wannes, Jan Van den Bulcke, Koen Bostoen, Bernard-Olivier Clist, Alexandre Livingstone-Smith, Nele Defoirdt, Florias Mees, Laurent Nsenga, Joris Van Acker, and Hans Beeckman. 2014. “Archaeological Charcoals as Archives for Firewood Preferences and Vegetation Composition During the Late Holocene in the Southern Mayumbe, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).” Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 23 (5): 591–606.
APA
Hubau, W., Van den Bulcke, J., Bostoen, K., Clist, B.-O., Livingstone-Smith, A., Defoirdt, N., Mees, F., et al. (2014). Archaeological charcoals as archives for firewood preferences and vegetation composition during the late Holocene in the southern Mayumbe, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). VEGETATION HISTORY AND ARCHAEOBOTANY, 23(5), 591–606.
Vancouver
1.
Hubau W, Van den Bulcke J, Bostoen K, Clist B-O, Livingstone-Smith A, Defoirdt N, et al. Archaeological charcoals as archives for firewood preferences and vegetation composition during the late Holocene in the southern Mayumbe, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). VEGETATION HISTORY AND ARCHAEOBOTANY. 2014;23(5):591–606.
MLA
Hubau, Wannes, Jan Van den Bulcke, Koen Bostoen, et al. “Archaeological Charcoals as Archives for Firewood Preferences and Vegetation Composition During the Late Holocene in the Southern Mayumbe, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).” VEGETATION HISTORY AND ARCHAEOBOTANY 23.5 (2014): 591–606. Print.