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Institute of Archaeology

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Louis Champion

An archaeobotanical study of food and drink evolution in the African Savannah - Forest transition

 

Email: louis.champion.13@ucl.ac.uk

Section: Archaeological Sciences

Supervisors:

Profile

An archaeobotanical study of food and drink evolution in the African Savannah - Forest transition

I want to approach the history of food and agriculture in two contrasting contexts: the rainforest and the savannah area. Nowadays, the first area is characterized by the use of tubers/starches/sticky foods (including yams, plantains), while the second one characterizes by a cereal-based diet (millet porridge, bread, beer). Can we approach these different food traditions archaeologically? Have they witnessed transformation and diverging processes through time? Do such possible changes and differences materialize in kitchen artefacts, such as pottery vessels? To what extent may we identify transfers from one zone to the other; e.g. the southward diffusion of millets or the more northerly use of yams?

In studying the signature of food complexes, we can also study links between the origins of kingdoms and empires and food rises. In others words: Can we use archaeobotany to characterise the food production that underwrote the rise of urbanism and kingdoms? How is urbanism in tropical Africa supported in terms of a food production base? To what extent is more intensive cereal production, e.g. West African rice, particularly conducive to supporting urbanism as opposed tuber-based systems. In the wet zone, do bananas and/or taro (both introduced from Asia) essentially serve a cereal as staple food in terms of increasing productivity through more intensive land use?

To study domestication, agricultural evolution and culinary tradition, there are different approaches. Because vegetables are the most common food, I would like to study history of alimentation by the mean of archaeobotany. Without omitting other analytical tools developed in this domain, such as modern botanical and genetic studies of crops, I will focus on ancient plant remains and the general contexts where they come from. Indeed carbonized macro-remains of plant are the most typical evidences that provide information for early crops and agriculture. Furthermore, new possibilities are developing in the analyses of botanical remains: combined with older methods, they will bring a new body of data liable to improve our knowledge of food history.

Education

  • BA, African Archaeology, History and Art; Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB, Belgium) 2009
  • MA, African Archaeology, History and Art; Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB, Belgium) 2011
  • MA, Prehistory, Protohistory, paleo-environment, of Africa and Mediterranean area; Université Paul Valery Montpellier (UM3, France).2013
    Publications

    Journal Articles

    First author

    In prep. Champion L., Fuller DQ, Page H., Reid A. "New evidence on the development of finger millet and sorghum economies in Uganda. Archaeobotanical results from Ntuusi. In Vegetation History and Archaeobotany.

    In Press Champion L., and Fuller D.Q., (in press). New evidence on the development of millet and rice economies in the Niger River basin: archaeobotanical results from Benin. In A. M. Mercuri, K. Neumann, A. Hohn (eds). Plants and people in the African Past: Progress in African Archaeobotany

    In Press Champion L.,Arazi, N., Mambu, C, Lumumbwa Luna, O., Nikis, N., Cornelissen, E & Livingstone Smith, A. ,Histoire et Archéologie du Maniema (RDC) : Mission dans la région de Kindu et Kasongo. Nyame Akuma, 2017

    2013 Champion L., Haour A., Le Site de TinTin Kanza, Nord-Bénin, Hiver 2013: Une Étude Préliminaire du Matériel Céramique du Sondage I, Nyame Akuma N°79.

    Co-author

    In prep. Kay, A. U., D. Q. Fuller, K. Neumann, B. Eichhorn, A. Höhn, J. Morin-Rivat, L. Champion, V. Linseele, E. Huysecom, S. Ozainne, L. Lespez, S. Biagetti, M. Madella, U. Salzmann, and J. O. Kaplan., West and Central Africa from 1800BC to AD1500: A time series of land-use system maps.

    In Press Livingstone Smith, A., Matonda, I., Mfuta, L., Mambu, C., Champion, L., Cranshof, E. & Nikis, N. Routes et paysages de l'esclavage : Reconnaissance archéologique dans la région de l'embouchure du fleuve Congo (RDC).Nyame Akuma, 2017

    In Press Winchell F., Stevens C., Murphy C., Champion L., Fuller D.Q., Evidence for sorghum domestication in Fourth Millennium BC eastern Sudan: spikelet morphology from ceramic impressions of the Butana Group. Current Anthropology.

    2015 Pryce O.T., Kyaw A.A, Andia L., Champion L., Colonna C., Favereau A., Myat K., Htwe M., Peixoto X., Pradier B., Willis A., Valentin F., Zazzo A., Dating The Myanmar Bronze Age: Preliminary 14c Dates From the Oakaie 1 Cemetery Near Nyaung'gan. Journal Of Indo-Pacific Archaeology 39: 38-49

    2015 Robion-Brunner C., A. Haour, M.-P. Coustures, L. Champion & D. Béziat., 2015.

    Iron Production in Northern Benin: Excavations at Kompa Moussékoubou. Journal of African Archaeology, Volume 13 (1).

    2014 Nikis N., Champion L., Fouilles, prospections, et prélèvements archéobotaniques dans les zones cuprifères de Mindouli et Boko-Songho en République du Congo, Nyame Akuma N°82, pages 73-83.

    2013 Bosquet D., Timmermans J.,Champion L., Ittre/Virginal-Samme : évaluation à la rue de Samme 20. Namur, Chronique de l'Archéologie Wallonne, 20.

    2013 Bosquet D.,Champion L.,«Waterloo/Waterloo: évaluation avenue Commandant Lachouque. Namur, Chronique de l'Archéologie Wallonne, 20.

    2013 Bosquet D.,Champion L.,Grez-Doiceau/Grez-Doiceau : sondage dans le site Michelsberg du Bois de Laurensart. Namur, Chronique de l'Archéologie Wallonne, 20.

    2013 Bosquet D., Champion L. Nikis N.,Villers-la-Ville/Tilly: sondage en bordure d'un tumulus arasé à la drève du Tumulus. Namur, Chronique de l'Archéologie Wallonne, 20.

    2013 Bosquet D., Champion L.Nikis N.,Nivelles/Nivelles : sondage dans la station du Pécrot, rue de l'Escavée. Namur, Chronique de l'Archéologie Wallonne, 20.

    2012 Bosquet D.,Champion L.,Chaumont-Gistoux/Chaumont-Gistoux : sondage archéologique à proximité du site Michelsberg des « Bruyères », Namur, Chronique de l'Archéologie Wallonne, 19.

    2012 Bosquet D.,Champion L., Nivelles/Thines: évaluation sur le site de la « Vieille Cour », Namur, Chronique de l'Archéologie Wallonne, 19.

    2012 Bosquet D., Hannut F & Champion L.,Walhain / Tourinnes Saint-Lambert: Fouilles de sauvetage sur le vicus de Tourinnes Saint-Lambert à l'occasion de l'élargissement de la N243a, Namur, Chronique de l'Archéologie Wallonne, 19.

    2011 Bosquet D., Hannut F., Champion L.,de sauvetage dans le vicus de Walhain / Tourinnes-Saint-Lambert : les travaux d'élargissement de la N243a, Journée d'Archéologie Romaine-Romeinendag, Bruxelles, Musées Royaux d'art et d'Histoire, p. 7-16.

    Book Chapters

    First author

    In press Champion L, Fuller DQ., Archaeobotanical Analysis. Agricultural Diversification and change in the Niger Valley.  Chapter In: Haour A, Reynolds F (ed.) Birnin Lafiya: 2000 years in a Dendi Village. Journal of African Archaeology Monograph series. Africa Magna Verlag.

    In press Champion L., Haour A., Livingstone-Smith A., Excavation at Tintin Kanza, TTK-13-SI. Chapter In: Haour A, Reynolds F (ed.) Birnin Lafiya: 2000 years in a Dendi Village. Journal of African Archaeology Monograph series. Africa Magna Verlag

    In press Champion L, Excavation at Kantoro, KRO-14-SI SII. Chapter In: Haour A, Reynolds (ed.) Birnin Lafiya: 2000 years in a Dendi Village. Journal of African Archaeology Monograph series. Africa Magna Verlag.

    In press Champion L, Excavation at TondoWindi, TOW-14-SI. Chapter In: Haour A, Reynolds F (ed.) Birnin Lafiya: 2000 years in a Dendi Village. Journal of African Archaeology Monograph series. Africa Magna Verlag.

    Co-author

    In Press Livingstone-Smith A., Nikis N., Champion L., Nature, typology, and issues of archaeological recognition. Chapter In: Haour A, Reynolds F (ed.) Birnin Lafiya: 2000 years in a Dendi Village. Journal of African Archaeology Monograph series. Africa Magna Verlag.