Rainmaker ritual helps date droughts in Iron Age Africa

January 21st, 2009 - 2:15 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Jan 21 (ANI): Scientists have uncovered ashes within archaeological remains in Zimbabwe, which are indicative of ancient rainmaking fires, and can help date droughts in Iron Age Africa.

According to a report in New Scientist, the finding was made by Thomas Huffman and his colleagues from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

After a several years of little or no rainfall, the Bantu people near modern-day Zimbabwe would send a rainmaker to nearby hills.

Theyd burn fires with dark smoke to call black rain clouds from the mountains, said Huffman.

Villagers were also made to burn grain bins if they had planted unlucky foreign seeds.

Huffmans team uncovered the ashes within archaeological remains. With the help of carbon dating and analysis of tree rings, they discovered and dated previously unknown droughts.

The results also date a drought in AD 1300 thought to have made a Bantu society vulnerable to invasion from Great Zimbabwe. (ANI)

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