7. Conclusion

Approaching the conclusion of this study, some aspects may help to shed light on the archaeological interpretations. Owing to the important differences in the manufacturing processes of Neolithic and Malian stone bracelets – with the latter being shaped with the aid of metal tools – we have not aimed at a comparative ethnographic study. Nevertheless, some stages of the chaîne opératoire, such as the polishing sequence, can be compared. Moreover, a study of this kind stimulates reflection on traditional models used in archaeology.

Concerning the distribution, polished bracelets are absent from workshops but a few fragments of bracelets made of non-local stone were found. Observing the relationship between craftsmen and wearers of bracelets, we may conclude that a group of craftsmen can produce different types of bracelet. Thus the type of bracelet does not provide reliable chronological evidence, but may reflect the fashions characteristic of different groups. When bracelets are worn, many types can coexist within a single ethnic group. Moreover the community of craftsmen producing the bracelets is not necessarily that of the wearers, and many diffusion patterns operate at the same time within an ethnic group.

The bracelets are not only made in Hombori. Contemporaneous workshops can also be found in the region of Agadez in Niger, where bracelets were made from bituminous schist. Thus two groups of craftsmen, belonging to two different workshop traditions, can produce the same type of bracelet, with particular styles being distributed through the agency of nomadic peoples such as the Tuareg.

However, many aspects of the Malian production could not be explored. We lack data about the origins of bracelet manufacture. Did the skills develop locally or were they imported from another region? It would also be interesting to find out whether the craftsmen created the demand, or responded to an already existing need. We are able to confirm that stone rings were worn during the prehistoric period in the Sahel and Sahara, but further archaeological research is necessary to find out when the Hombori production began. Spatial analysis of the quarry sites and fieldwork related to workshops would have to be carried out. It is also important to assess the fieldwork against the background of the experience of the last craftsmen. A documentary film is to be made to preserve a visual record of this tradition.

It is also important to meet the Mossi and the Tuareg in order to understand their view of the bracelets and their usage. We have to compare their views with the testimony and the bibliographical references. We also need to find out more about the ideas associated with such bracelets among wearers from other ethnic groups.


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Last updated: Wed Jul 1 2009