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No. 18: Nov-Dec 1981

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The Senegambian Megalithic Monument Complex

When one thinks of megaliths, one's thoughts usually turn to Britain and Brittany, forgetting that North Africa is covered with them. M.H. Hill sketches out in this paper the full extent of the great tract of megalithic remains on the Atlantic coast of Africa near Cape Verde, which he calls the Senegambian Monument Complex because it sits astride both Senegal and Gambia. An archeological inventory of the region discloses 212 pillar-circle sites and 251 "tombelles," which are stone cairns or heaps often surrounded by ring-like stone walls. Hundreds of sites with tumuli also dot the area. One of the pillar-circle sites boasts all of 50 individual pillar circles. Some of the pillars are topped with cupules, raised discs, or balls. The fanciest pillars are V- or Y-shaped with crossbars. Archeological exploration of these impressive sites is incomplete. Preliminary dating makes the Senegambian Complex over 1,000 years old. The functions of this vast array of megalithic sites is unknown, although it is not obviously astronomical.

(Hill, Matthew H.; "The Senegambian Monument Complex: Current Status and Prospects for Research," in Megaliths to Medicine Wheels: Boulder Structures in Archaeology, Michael Wilson, et al, eds., Calgary, 1981, p. 419.)

Reference. Much more information about these North African sites may be found in our Handbook: Ancient Man. This volume is described here.

Lyre-shaped megalithic monument in Senegal Lyre-shaped megalithic monument in Senegal

From Science Frontiers #18, NOV-DEC 1981. 1981-2000 William R. Corliss