Trans-Saharans 2014: Burials, Migration and Identity

Conference report

Two people discussing in front of a hand-drawn diagram of AfricaThe Trans-Saharans burials, migration and identity conference took place on Wednesday 30th April to Friday 2nd May 2014 at the University of Leicester conference centre. Papers were pre-circulated and each speaker presented the paper of another participant to provoke wider discussion. The conference took a multi-disciplinary approach incorporating linguists, isotope specialists, osteologists and archaeologists and comparing all the regions of the Trans-Saharan zone. Participants were challenged to consider their evidence and analyses in the context of neighbouring regions and different methodologies. This approach generated discussion and solutions for issues such as the development and movement of distinctive Saharan burial practices, how to understand the diaspora of Berber languages, the need for more isotope studies and the degree of regional connections between the central Sahara, the Lake Chad basin, West Africa and the Maghreb.

The papers will be published in a volume that takes into account the conference discussions and advances the original ideas of the individual authors. We hope this ground-breaking approach will create new networks of researchers and will set a new research agenda for burials, migration and identity in the Trans-Saharan zone.

Attendees at the conference

The following papers made up the programme for the conference:

  • Christopher Ehret Estimating Divergence Dates and Expansion Histories in the Northern Sahara and Maghreb
  • Elizabeth Fentress The Archaeological and Genetic Correlates of Amazight Linguistics
  • Roger Blench The Linguistic Prehistory of the Sahara
  • David Mattingly et al. Dying to be Garamantian: Burial and Migration in Fazzan
  • Maria Gatto et al. Identity Markers in the SW Fezzan – Were People of the Tanezuft/Acacus Region Garamantians?
  • Ronika Power et al. Human Mobility and Identity: Variation, Diet and Migration in Relation to the Garamantes of Fazzan
  • Francesca Ricci et al. Garamantes from Fewet (Ghat, Fezzan, Libya): A Skeletal Perspective
  • Michele Buzon et al. Isotopic Approaches to Mobility in Northern Africa: A Bioarchaeological Examination of Egyptian/Nubian Interaction in the Nile Valley
  • Sonja Magnavita Burial and Society at Kissi, Burkina Faso
  • Scott MacEachern Burial Practice, Settlement and Regional Connections in the Southern Lake Chad Basin, 1500 BC – AD 1500
  • Youssef Bokbot Proto-Historic and Pre-Islamic Funerary Archaeology in the Moroccan Pre-Saharan Area
  • Emanuele Papi Revisiting First Millennium BC Graves in Northwest Morocco
  • Joan Sanmartí and Irene Cruz Numidian Burial Practices
  • David Edwards Between the Nile and the Sahara. Some Comparative Perspectives…