Introduction. Shrines, substances and medicine in sub-Saharan Africa: archaeological, anthropological, and historical perspectives
Anthropology and Medicine
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Reason for embargo
Open access article
Whereas shrines in Africa, and to a lesser extent their links with medicine and healing, have been extensively studied by historians and anthropologists, they have been largely neglected by archaeologists. Focus has been placed upon palaeopathology when medicine is considered in archaeological contexts. Difficulties certainly exist in defining medicine shrines, substances and practices archaeologically, yet research can take various forms - scapegoats and figural representations of disease; divination and diagnosis; trade and spread of medicinal substances, shrines, and amulets; syncretism of different traditions and materiality; the material culture associated with healing and medicinal substance; depictions in rock art; genetic research. A move beyond palaeopathology is required to begin to understand the archaeology of medicine shrines, substances, practices and healing in sub-Saharan Africa.
The author is grateful to Peter Mitchell for providing references on Southern African images of healing, and Roberta Simonis for doing likewise for the Sahara, but the author is responsible for all inadequacies and inaccuracies in interpretation. The author is also grateful to the Wellcome Trust for providing the funding so that the conference from which most of these papers originated could be held. The author would also like to thank Rachel MacLean for reading a draft of this paper.
This is the final version of the article. Available from Taylor & Francis via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 18 (2), pp. 145 - 166
Place of publication