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date: 28 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The origins of archaeology were in Europe, so that its development in the African continent was initially shaped by European perceptions, subsequently modified by American influences. Only during the last half century have indigenous Africans had a voice in the archaeologies of their own countries, which have nevertheless often retained approaches adopted from overseas. This article notes that much of African archaeology has been characterised by particularism; syntheses, especially at a continental level, have been relatively rare. Even studies dealing with large parts of the continent are not that common, although areas of lesser size have received more attention. Problems that plague much of African archaeological thought become particularly apparent. The Eurocentric nineteenth-century Three Age System and the associated concept of prehistory continue to characterise much analytical and interpretive writing. In spite of attempts to see the African past in different way, these outmoded ideas remain current in many places.

Keywords: African archaeology, particularism, Three Age System, European perceptions, African archaeological thought

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