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Archaeology and Landscape in Bandafassi (Senegal)

Bandafassi Regional Archaeological Project (BRAP)


Cameron Gokee (Appalachian State University) initiated the project with two weeks of archaeological reconnaissance at villages across the Bandafassi Arrondissement of southeastern Senegal. Core members of the field crew included IFAN-UCAD students Djiby Tamba and Massar Sarr, chauffeur Tamsir “Le Commandant” Maiga, and local guides Mamadou Diallo (Bandafassi) and Jean-Pierre Camara (Andiel). Funding came from a Multi-Country Research Fellowship from the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC), with in-country support from the West African Research Center (WARC) in Dakar. 

Members of the 2013 BRAP team at the ancestral site of the Kante family on the eastern Bandafassi Plateau. From left to right: Mamadou Diallo, Djiby Tamba, Massar Sarr, and Jean-Pierre Camara.


Cameron Gokee and Matthew Kroot (Skidmore College) joined with IFAN-UCAD colleagues Aimé Kantoussan and Adama Athie to undertake five days of reconnaissance around the villages of Ethiowar, Andiel, Daande, Thioketian, Tenkoto, and Korokonto. Research funding was provided by Appalachian State University and Skidmore College.

Members of the 2015 BRAP team and local guides documenting a pottery-firing pit outside the village of Ethiowar. From left to right: Marc Keita, Adama Athie, Oumar Keita, and Matt Kroot.


Cameron Gokee and Matthew Kroot directed a four-week archaeological field school sponsored by the Institute for Field Research, bringing together nine students from universities in the US and Senegal and local guide Felix Keita (Tenkoto). Research focused on systematic survey around the Bandafassi Plateau and excavations at the sites of Yoro Moussou and Heramakonon. Supplemental funding for this field season came from the University Research Council at Appalachian State University.

Members of the 2016 BRAP team following excavations at the site of Heramakonon. Back row, from left to right: Colleen Leddie, Cameron Gokee, Fred Hardyway, and Katelynn Conway. Front row, from left to right: Coumba Dabo, Camille Machiels, Cheikh Diop, and Catie O’Shaughnessy.


Fieldwork involved two weeks of systematic survey of different geographical zones within 5-6 km of the Bandafassi Plateau, as well as a test run of geophysical prospection (magnetic susceptibility) at two ancestral Bedik settlements. The field crew included Cameron Gokee, Aimé Kantoussan (Musée des Civilisations Noires), two IFAN-UCAD students Lamine Badji and Ibrahima Sy, and local guides Marc Keita (Ethiowar) and Harouna Diallo (Daande). Funding  was provided by Appalachian State University.

Lamine Badji (left), Ibrahima Sy (center), and Marc Keita (right) perform a survey of magnetic susceptibility at a small settlement site north of Bandafassi. 


Beginning with a three-week season in April-May, Gokee teamed up with assistant field director Fodé Diakho (IFAN-UCAD) for systematic survey along the west bank of the Gambia River. During a subsequent four-week season in November-December, Kèlètigui Doukouré (Université Julius Nyéréré de Kankan, Guinea) led reconnaissance to document oral histories and heritage sites across the region, while Gokee and Diakho directed shovel-testing and test excavations at five sites around the modern villages of Nathia, Andiel, Ethiowar, and Itato. For the final week of fieldwork, Dana Drake Rosenstein (University of Arizona) also joined the team to collect ceramic and soil samples from these sites for thermoluminescence (TL) dating. Additional personnel included eleven graduate students from IFAN-UCAD, the University of Chicago, and the University of South Carolina, and the fifteen local men who assisted with excavations. Funding for this stage of the project came largely from the US National Science Foundation (BCS#1842204), with supplemental support from Appalachian State University.

Members of the April-May 2019 BRAP team at a rock shelter near the Bassari village of Ethiolo. From left to right: René Ndiana Faye, Fodé Diakho, Serigne Modou Cissé, Balingo, Fatou Diedhiou, Niako Mané, Oumy Ndiaye, Kirsten Forsberg, Kelsey Rooney, Cameron Gokee, and Harouna Diallo. 

Members of the November-Decemeber 2019 BRAP team at the site of Itato-Diakha. Back row from left to right: Mamady Diallo, Serigne Modou Cissé, Ibrahima Mballo, Mamadou Koulibaly, René Ndiana Faye, and Fodé Diakho. Middle row from left to right: Fatou Diedhiou, Alpha Omar Jenn, Kéba Barry, Mamadou Dabo, Harouna Diallo, Amadou Dramine, and Jordan Davis. Front row: Kèlètigui Doukouré.

Future Directions

Beginning in 2022, Matthew Kroot (Arizona State University) will take over the directorship of this project…