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Le Sarnyéré Dogon : Archéologie d'un isolat, Mali

ContributorsGallay, Alain
Number of pages242
PublisherParis : A.D.P.F.
  • Recherche sur les grandes civilisations. Mémoire; 4
Publication date1981

Sarnyéré (District of Boni, Douentza Circle, Mali, West Africa, lat. N. 15° 01' 19.8", long. W 2° 25' 33.0" ) is a small montaneous massif on the curve of the Niger, occupied by four Dogon villages, on the edge of the extension area of this ethnic group.

Our objectives are: 1. The insertion of pottery into the reality of the ethnic group examined with a perspective both ethnological (functional and synchronic) and archaeological (historical and diachronic), 2. The specific behavior of pottery within the notion of "isolate".

The materials from Sarnyéré are opposed synchronically, to date furnished by the neighbouring ethnic groups (Rimaïbés); and diachronically, to the archaeological materials of the Nokara and Sanga caves.

Our approach is situated within the framework of the imposed constructions (deduced typologies) of J.-C. GARDIN (1979), where one proceeds from an order OX locatable at the level of the extrinsic properties T (chronological ordering), L (ordering according to the ethnic groups present) and F (ordering according to the function of the types of containers), to an order OI defined at the level of the intrinsic properties of pottery (G properties, general morphology and decoration).

It is possible, on this basis, to characterize morphologically:

1.- The functional classes of present-day pottery

2.- Certain phases of shaping of present-day pottery

3.- Present-day ethnie (non) particularismes

4.- The historical evolution of Sarnyéré pottery from 1700 AD up to the present-day.

Data interpretation concerns essentially the historical aspects. The essential fact in the history of the Sarnyéré pottery is the replacement, at a relatively recent date (during the 19th Century), of traditions specifically Dogon by a tradition apparently alien and which can be located at present among the non-Dogon populations neighbouring Sarnyéré.

These findings permit us to formulate the following hypothesis:

The marginalisation of the Sarnyéré villages is linked to the decline in Dogon settlement in the Douentza-Hômbori region. This decline is perhaps linked to past famines, which brought about a total reconversion in the mode of production of pottery and to very clear changes in the aesthetic properties of the latter.

The verification of this hypothesis will depend on the answers supplied to the various questions brought up in this work, and formulated at the end of the study.

This research comes within the framework of the following works:

Methodological level:

1.- Gardin 1977, Gallay 1978, formalisation de la recherche archéologique.

2.- Gallay 1970, relation entre archéologie et ethnologie.

At a specifically local level :

1.- Sauvain-Dugerdil 1976 et 1977, étude génétique des isolats Dogons.

2.- Bedaux 1972, archéologie de la falaise de Bandiagara.

Citation (ISO format)
GALLAY, Alain. Le Sarnyéré Dogon : Archéologie d’un isolat, Mali. Paris : A.D.P.F., 1981. (Recherche sur les grandes civilisations. Mémoire)
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