Archaeological findings reveal Africans invented pottery 11,000 years ago

Stephen Nartey October 08, 2022
A person's hands crafting pottery on a spinning wheel. Original public domain image from Wikimedia Commons

When climatic conditions began evolving and the survival of early men came under threat some 10,000 years ago, there was a clarion need for Africans to invent ways to safeguard their existence. The warm and cold weather conditions had adversely affected the food patterns and gathering of fruits and crops had become more laborious to undertake.

Those who couldn’t endure the changes began migrating from the southern and central parts of Africa to the Northern and Sahel regions, according to Swiss Info.

The land no longer supported the cultivation of pearl millet and wild grasses the early men depended on, thereby creating food shortages intermittently.

Many began exploring ways to store food without it going bad. One of the inventions that came out of this necessity was venturing into pottery and ceramics to store the food that they cooked. The advantage of using the pots was that they kept the food warm due to the climatic conditions and preserved meals to enable them to eat leftovers.

Archaeologists said the only part of the continent where this technology of making pottery existed thousands of years ago was in the East Asia countries like China, Japan, and Siberia.  

Geneva University’s Eric Huysecom who led an international team to make these findings said pottery unearthed from Africa had the same shape, size and time period it was invented. According to him, this suggests that the changes in climate conditions forced early men to make lifestyle changes.

He said the pottery was invented to ensure the sustenance of the early Africans who were trying to understand the environmental changes around them. Huysecom said they unraveled the fragments of pottery dating 9,400 BC from Central Mali.

He said they selected the current site Ounjougou because of the wealth of archaeological artifacts buried at the site. He said the site had a connection with the evolution of early Africans and how they adapted to atmospheric changes.

He observed that aside from the discovery of pieces of pottery excavated at the Ounjougou, it gives an insight into how necessity drove early Africans to create technology to serve their needs. The Geneva researcher said clearly that coming up with pottery was in response to the drastic changes in the environment.

According to him, it has a linkage with modern practices where pressing needs inform inventions to make life easy for humankind. Huysecom said the invention of pottery came at a time when early men began inventing arrowheads to make hunting of animals easy.

He said the research team is interested in tracing the regions where these inventors lived and determining the actual age of the pottery.

He said though the technology they used in determining the age of the pieces of pottery states that they could be at least 11,400 years old, they could be older than what they are learning.

The Geneva researcher also added that their findings give them a sense of how early they were related to environmental shocks that existed in their immediate environment.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: October 8, 2022


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