An update on project activities, January 2013

The Western Sahara Project may have been keeping a low profile lately, but behind the scenes we’ve been working furiously to complete a book detailing the findings of Phase 1 of the Project, which consisted of eight seasons of fieldwork from 2002 to 2009. The book will have the undramatic title The Prehistory of Western Sahara: A Synthesis of Fieldwork, 2002 to 2009” and will be published by Oxbow later this year (hopefully by November). A draft has been submitted to Oxbow and is currently with reviewers.

The book will have eight chapters, which will address wider archaeological and environmental contexts, environmental survey work, reconnaissance or ‘extensive’ survey work throughout the Polisario-controlled areas or ‘Free Zone’, intensive survey work in a limited area north of Tifariti, and excavations in the intensively surveyed area. A chapter is dedicated to the chipped stone record, and another to the typology of built stone features (including but not limited to monumental funerary structures). The final discussion chapter places the archaeology of the Free Zone in its wider Sahara context, and discusses affinities with the Atlantic Europe interaction sphere.

Currently we have no plans to return to the field in 2013, which will be spent producing some additional publications and sourcing funding for Phase 2 of the Project. We hope to return to the field in 2014, subject to the availability of funding.

We will be contacting people who have expressed an interest in volunteering for fieldwork in due course, and will maintain a mailing list of those interested in participating in fieldwork, so that we can send out updates about any future field seasons.

In the meantime, watch this space or find us on Facebook or Twitter for news about the Project.

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About Nick Brooks

Nick Brooks is Director of Garama 3C Ltd, a small consulting firm specialising in climate change and development. Garama offers consultancy and training services to government, multilateral organisations, NGOs and the private sector, with a focus on mainstreaming climate change adaptation into decision-making and planning. with a background in climate science (see www.garama.co.uk and garama-training.com for more details). After graduating with a degree in Geophysics from Edinburgh University in 1993, and a brief postgraduate role at the UK Met Office, Nick completed a PhD on drought in the Sahel at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit in 1999. He subsequently undertook postdoctoral work at the University of Reading, using remote sensing and field surveys to identify archaeological sites and indicators of past environmental change in the Libyan Sahara. Nick then moved back to UEA, where he worked as a researcher on vulnerability and adaptation to climate change. In 2005 Nick became an independent consultant, working on climate change adaptation and related issues with a variety of clients including UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, IUCN, the UK's Department for International Development (DFID), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. In 2012 Nick established Garama 3C Ltd, continuing his work with DFID and AfDB, working with new clients, and developing Garama's climate change training courses. Nick continues to be active in research, working with colleagues at UEA and elsewhere on human responses to past climate change. This work focuses on adaptation during the Middle Holocene Climatic Transition, from around 6400-5000 years ago. Nick established the Western Sahara Project, and is a co-director of the project with Joanne Clarke at UEA. The Western Sahara Project examines the transition to aridity in the disputed, non-self governing territory of Western Sahara, through an archaeological and palaeoenvironmental lens.
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