Institute of Archaeology

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First for Archaeology in UK 2015

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View from the trenches: Mali

4 December 2013

The DoSigi mask, contemporary version, danced at the annual Do festival (photo MacDonald)

An Institute of Archaeology team has undertaken the first archaeological project in Mali since the start of the conflict there in 2011.

Kevin MacDonald and Nikolas Gestrich returned from a successful archaeological mission in the Segou Region of Mali at the end of October. Theirs was the first foreign archaeological field project in the country since terrorist incidents escalated into a large scale conflict in 2011-2012.

Funded by the British Academy and the Bremer Stiftung, Kevin and Nikolas worked with Malian historian Seydou Camara and archaeologist Daouda Keita to document the past of the ‘Do’ federation – one half of the nucleus of the Empire of Mali (c. AD 1230-1500).

In addition to surveying Dodugubani (the ancient capital of Do), the team visited all of six legendary ‘Dodugu’ (towns of Do) situated on the Niger’s right bank. A particularly remarkable discovery was a massive 75ha tumulus field, with over 250 monumental tumuli, recorded by the team near the modern Malian town of Baroueli.

Prof Kevin MacDonald beside one of the legendary ‘sacrificial stones’ of Dodugubani, (photo Gestrich)
The DoSigi mask, contemporary version, danced at the annual Do festival (photo MacDonald)
Dr Nikolas Gestrich and Dr Daouda Keita in the Baroueli Tumulus Field (photo MacDonald)


Images (L-R): The 'DoSigi' (Monster Buffalo of Do) mask is a wooden headdress still danced at the annual Festival of the Do. It depicts aspects of the 'hunt of the DoSigi,' a key event in the mythic origins of Mali; Kevin MacDonald beside one of the legendary ‘sacrificial stones’ of Dodugubani; Nikolas Gestrich and Dr Daouda Keita in the Baroueli Tumulus Field. Click on the images to see high-resolution versions.


Other 'Views from the trenches'