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The elusive archaeology of Kongo urbanism: the case of Kindoki, Mbanza Nsundi (Lower Congo, DRC)

Bernard-Olivier Clist UGent, Els Cranshof, Gilles-Maurice de Schryver UGent, Davy Herremans, Karlis Karklins, Igor Matonda Sakala UGent, Caroline Polet, Amanda Sengelov, Fanny Steyaert, Charlotte Verhaeghe, et al. (2015) AFRICAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL REVIEW. 32(3). p.369-412
abstract
We present here results, analyses and an in-depth historical contextualisation of the fieldwork undertaken in 2012 and 2013 at the Kindoki site in the Lower Congo (DRC). This site is linked with Mbanza Nsundi, one of the Kongo Kingdom's provincial capitals, which turns out to be archaeologically 'elusive'. Pinpointing its location proved to be particularly challenging. To this end, a historically-informed excavation methodology was developed that was never implemented in Central Africa before. We combined a strategy of systematic test pits with a large-scale 50 m grid approach. A cemetery was identified on Kindoki Hill with distinct but contemporaneous quarters of a 16th-17thcenturies settlement on both sides. The cemetery itself contains mainly 18th-century burials, in all likelihood of successive Nsundi rulers. The foreign, especially Portuguese, ceramics excavated on the hilltop and the hundreds of Venetian and likely Bavarian beads found in the graves are indicative of Mbanza Nsundi's connection to trade routes linking the Atlantic coast with the Pool region. The most striking discovery is that of a previously unknown type of comb-impressed pottery, from a pit with a calibrated radiocarbon date AD 1294-1393 (2 sigma). This suggests that a settlement had been developing at Kindoki since at least the 14th century, which allows us, for the very first time, to spatially bridge Kongo history and 'prehistory'. For the entire Lower Congo region only three 14C dates posterior to AD 1000 were available before the start of the KongoKing project, twelve have been added for just Kindoki.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (original)
publication status
published
subject
keyword
AFRICAN, KINGDOM, beads, swords, pottery, cemetery, urban archaeology, Central Africa, Kongo Kingdom, ORIGIN, COAST
journal title
AFRICAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL REVIEW
volume
32
issue
3
pages
369 - 412
publisher
Springer
Web of Science type
Article
Web of Science id
000361648800001
ISSN
0263-0338
DOI
10.1007/s10437-015-9199-2
project
KONGOKING (Political centralization, economic integration and language evolution in Central Africa: An interdisciplinary approach to the early history of the Kongo kingdom.)
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
A1
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
id
5708593
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-5708593
date created
2014-09-23 23:45:07
date last changed
2016-12-19 15:38:58
@article{5708593,
  abstract     = {We present here results, analyses and an in-depth historical contextualisation of the fieldwork undertaken in 2012 and 2013 at the Kindoki site in the Lower Congo (DRC). This site is linked with Mbanza Nsundi, one of the Kongo Kingdom's provincial capitals, which turns out to be archaeologically 'elusive'. Pinpointing its location proved to be particularly challenging. To this end, a historically-informed excavation methodology was developed that was never implemented in Central Africa before. We combined a strategy of systematic test pits with a large-scale 50 m grid approach. A cemetery was identified on Kindoki Hill with distinct but contemporaneous quarters of a 16th-17thcenturies settlement on both sides. The cemetery itself contains mainly 18th-century burials, in all likelihood of successive Nsundi rulers. The foreign, especially Portuguese, ceramics excavated on the hilltop and the hundreds of Venetian and likely Bavarian beads found in the graves are indicative of Mbanza Nsundi's connection to trade routes linking the Atlantic coast with the Pool region. The most striking discovery is that of a previously unknown type of comb-impressed pottery, from a pit with a calibrated radiocarbon date AD 1294-1393 (2 sigma). This suggests that a settlement had been developing at Kindoki since at least the 14th century, which allows us, for the very first time, to spatially bridge Kongo history and 'prehistory'. For the entire Lower Congo region only three 14C dates posterior to AD 1000 were available before the start of the KongoKing project, twelve have been added for just Kindoki.},
  author       = {Clist, Bernard-Olivier and Cranshof, Els and de Schryver, Gilles-Maurice and Herremans, Davy and Karklins, Karlis and Matonda Sakala, Igor and Polet, Caroline and Sengelov, Amanda and Steyaert, Fanny and Verhaeghe, Charlotte and Bostoen, Koen},
  issn         = {0263-0338},
  journal      = {AFRICAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL REVIEW},
  keyword      = {AFRICAN,KINGDOM,beads,swords,pottery,cemetery,urban archaeology,Central Africa,Kongo Kingdom,ORIGIN,COAST},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {369--412},
  publisher    = {Springer},
  title        = {The elusive archaeology of Kongo urbanism: the case of Kindoki, Mbanza Nsundi (Lower Congo, DRC)},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10437-015-9199-2},
  volume       = {32},
  year         = {2015},
}

Chicago
Clist, Bernard-Olivier, Els Cranshof, Gilles-Maurice de Schryver, Davy Herremans, Karlis Karklins, Igor Matonda Sakala, Caroline Polet, et al. 2015. “The Elusive Archaeology of Kongo Urbanism: The Case of Kindoki, Mbanza Nsundi (Lower Congo, DRC).” African Archaeological Review 32 (3): 369–412.
APA
Clist, B.-O., Cranshof, E., de Schryver, G.-M., Herremans, D., Karklins, K., Matonda Sakala, I., Polet, C., et al. (2015). The elusive archaeology of Kongo urbanism: the case of Kindoki, Mbanza Nsundi (Lower Congo, DRC). AFRICAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL REVIEW, 32(3), 369–412.
Vancouver
1.
Clist B-O, Cranshof E, de Schryver G-M, Herremans D, Karklins K, Matonda Sakala I, et al. The elusive archaeology of Kongo urbanism: the case of Kindoki, Mbanza Nsundi (Lower Congo, DRC). AFRICAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL REVIEW. Springer; 2015;32(3):369–412.
MLA
Clist, Bernard-Olivier, Els Cranshof, Gilles-Maurice de Schryver, et al. “The Elusive Archaeology of Kongo Urbanism: The Case of Kindoki, Mbanza Nsundi (Lower Congo, DRC).” AFRICAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL REVIEW 32.3 (2015): 369–412. Print.