Ceramic figurine, AD 1200–1400, Cameroon

This small triangular ceramic figurine comes from site of Ble in the Houlouf region of the Chadian plain of northern Cameroon. It dates from AD 1200 to 1400, a period of expanding inequalities. At this time, Ble’s inhabitants traded locally produced iron, smoked fish, and salt for exotic copper, cowry shells, and stone and glass beads. The mound of Ble was one of two regional centers during this period. Archaeologist Augustin Holl conducted excavations at the site in the 1980s in a project designed to study the emergence of central Chadic polities and contribute to larger discussions of complex societies in West Africa. This figurine of a human face is largely intact. Elsewhere at the site, excavators recovered numerous decapitated figurines.

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In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.