Task 3: Languages, populations and environmental constraints
After having developed our lexical data bases and reached some idea about the temporal
stratification of (regional) proto-languages, we should turn to trying to correlate these results with
archaeological data. A growing number of sites have been identified in Bantu-speaking Africa,
although it must be admitted that the rainforest is still deficient in this regard (but cf. work done by
Clist, Oslisly et al. in Gabon). Reliable dates have been provided by the application of known
techniques like C14 datation, which have shown a much greater antiquity, for instance for iron-
working, than was previously recognised.
What we would like to know is whether any correlation with our linguistic results can be achieved,
and in particular whether any idea of the different densities of population exhibited by different sites
can be achieved. We know that paleo-environments in Africa varied widely over the last 30 millenia
or so, although more stability seems to have obtained since the end of the last glaciation.
The GARP programme (Genetic Algorithm for Rule-Set Prediction) has been applied succesfully to
European paleolithic sites, and by integrating climatic data with the dates proposed for the sites has
proved able to identify different models of population density associated with them. We intend to
apply the program to Central, Eastern and Southern African sites, and hope to obtain a confirmation of our linguistic results. This should constitute the final part of the project with a final conference in the