Holocene vegetation history of Ounjougou/Mali





Head and coordinator

Katharina Neumann

Scientific staff member

Barbara Eichhorn

Cooperation partners

Universités de Genève, Fribourg (Switzerland); Universités de Paris X-Nanterre, Angers, Caen, Rouen (France); Université de Bamako (Mali); University of Oxford (England)

Brief description

The site complex of Ounjougou is situated on the Dogon Plateau in Mali, in the heart of the Dogon Country. During the past 100,000 years, sediments of up to 16 m thick have been deposited which are currently cut and exposed by seasonal water courses. Well-preserved plant remains such as macro- and micro-charcoal, pollen, phytoliths, fruits and leaf fragments abound in the Holocene deposits of low-energy watercourses and ponds. They allow for a detailed reconstruction of the past 10,000 years’ regional vegetation history.

Stratified Holocene sediments at Ounjougou

Sampling at the site Ravin de la Mouche

The project focused on the following main questions

  • How did the savannas and the gallery forest establish on the plateau after the arid terminal Pleistocene?
  • What was the impact of the past 10,000 years’ climatic fluctuations?
  • How did humans alter vegetation and landscapes during this period, e. g. by burning, animal breeding or agriculture?
  • Can we separate out the two superimposing factors, human impact and climate, in the reconstruction of Holocene vegetation change?


The main results of the project, together with those of the subsequent project Landscape Archaeology in the Dogon Country, are presented here.