MOTHER TONGUE
Newsletter of the Association for the Study of Language In Prehistory

Issue 26 · Spring 1996


Reincarnation at Ishango

Three decades ago a promising site at Ishango (lacustrine East Africa) was denigrated when 'contaminated shells' ruined its dates. Recently, Alison Brooks solved its problems, bringing back a splendid site with boats, harpoons, and mathematical bones all dated to 25,000 BP. Our Ms. Brooks was the one this writer forgot to credit (MT-25) for her work with John Yellin in finding the 90,000 BP harpoons in the same general area. The Ishango report was in AFRICAN ARCHEOLOGICAL REVIEW in 1987 & 1995.

Also at Ishango was skeletal material which has not been published formally but was listed in the Abstracts of the AJPA. Some ideosyncrasies of shoulder and arm bones are said to be peculiar to modern Nilotic peoples to the north.(Additional source: Alison Brooks, personal communication, 1996) This is very interesting because Ishango ipso facto becomes a major candidate for association with old or proto-Nilo-Saharan, even if its location is too far south to be completely credible. Apropos of Nilo-Saharan, it seems that no tooth evulsion is found with the skeletons. Evulsion of two or four lower incisors is widely practiced by Nilo-Saharan peoples, as circumcision is by Afrasians. Check it out!


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(c) 1996 Association for the Study of Language In Prehistory