Polish archaeologists working in northern Burkina Faso have uncovered traces of some of the most ancient settlements ever found to date in the region. They now plan to study the mysterious Kurumba community that lives in the area, hoping to uncover the secrets of when its first people established themselves in Burkina Faso.
The project, led by scientists from the universities of Krakow and Warsaw, began last October, with the aim of improving scientific knowledge of a country that is often ignored by archaeologists. The team focused on the northern department of Pobé-Mengao, where many Kurumba people live.
Krzysztof Rak from the Institute of Archaeology of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków said: "Burkina Faso remains a blank spot on the archaeological map of Africa − so far only random excavations have been carried out here. The research project we have started may shed new light on the history of this country since the beginning of human presence in this place," as reported by the Polish Press Agency.
The first excavation season in Pobé-Mengao, between October and November, has yielded a number of important discoveries, including evidence of the most ancient settlements found in the area. Indeed, they have recovered fragments of potteries and stone tools dated 50 to 15,000 years ago.
Above all, the researchers want to solve the puzzle of when the Kurumba people first settled in Burkina Faso and to learn more about their history. It is known that this community was dominated by the Mossi people in the 18th century but so far, there has been debate among archaeologists about whether they arrived in the country in the 13th or in the 16th century. The excavations have yet to settle this question, but the team has already found out more about the region's history before the Kurumba arrived.
The archaeologists have worked in an abandoned village known as Damfelenga Dangomde, a settlement mound that was artificially created through an accumulation of man-made structures. The village is believed to have been inhabited until the end of the 19th century by the Kurumba people, but whether other humans lived there before remained unclear.
Now, within the surface of the mound, the team has unearthed artefacts indicating that the village had already been inhabited about 2,000 years ago, long before first traces of the Kurumba's presence in Burkina Faso.
Another discovery has backed this idea up. Near Damfelenga Dangomde, the archaeologists have uncovered a burial ground that they had mistaken for another village before. The burial mounds were dated to before 1300 AD, showing the presence of another important cultural group in Northern Burkina Faso in a distant past.