How archaeology contributes to African history and interdisciplinary research: evidence from Benin
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It is widely acknowledged that for most periods, and for most parts of the African continent, archaeology is the only source of information we have. Archaeologists are thus often asked to address or even help solve very thorny questions of interest to colleagues in other branches of the social sciences and humanities: for example, the timedepth of occupation of a region by a particular group, religious or economic practices, or the impact of the polities to which historical sources. These were some of the questions at the heart of the 2010 book co-edited by Benedetta Rossi and myself, Being and Becoming Hausa, which, as the title indicates, considered the Hausa areas of Niger and Nigeria. The present paper will now take the example of ongoing archaeological work in northern Benin, undertaken as part of an interdisciplinary European-Research-Council project I am leading, to illustrate what archaeology is able to contribute to these questions.