INTRODUCTION This chapter examines sociopolitical formation on the Koinadugu Plateau, northern Sierra Leone. Drawing on oral traditions, limited documentary sources, and archaeological data, this research examines the fortified towns that were the centers of historically known Limba, Yalunka, and Kuranko chiefdoms. The major impetus for the establishment of these Atlantic-period settlements was defense against slave raiding and interethnic conflict during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In this respect, their appearance during the era of the Atlantic world can be seen as both an internal African frontier and the frontier of an expanding Eurocentric world economic system. Archaeological data, however, suggest the initial occupations of some of these settlements took place during the first or early second millennia a.d., thus predating the advent of the Atlantic world. Although poorly known archaeologically, these occupations may represent an earlier period of settlement hierarchy and nascent complexity. These sites and their associated polities are examined in light of the region's longue durée, the impacts of the transatlantic slave trade, and Kopytoff's concept of the internal African frontier. The fortified towns of the Koinadugu Plateau, northern Sierra Leone, are the most striking aspect of the region's archaeological record. Defensive sites of this kind represent an ancient settlement form in West Africa, one that predates the advent of the Atlantic economy. However, many defensive sites were established in response to slave raiding and interethnic conflict during the period of the Atlantic trade. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries some of the fortified towns of the Koinadugu Plateau emerged as the center of small, fluid polities, with limited centralized authority. Political organization was centered on larger towns that extended limited control over surrounding villages. Within the Yalunka area, increasingly centralized political authority emerged during the late eighteenth century within the Solima Yalunka kingdom.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Title of host publication||Power and Landscape in Atlantic West Africa: Archaeological Perspectives|
|Publisher||Cambridge University Press|
|Number of pages||31|
|State||Published - Jan 1 2012|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities(all)