This paper considers, under rough chronological headings, work undertaken in Niger in the past century. Sites relevant to the Pleistocene occupation of the Sahara, to the adoption of elements of a “Neolithic package,” to the (perhaps misleadingly late) occupation of the Sahel, to alleged metalworking 3000 years ago, and to social complexity, are described and discussed. These data carry a relevance far beyond their immediate area, and the most fruitful application of the archaeology of Niger is to be found in theoretical rethinking.
Fig. 5. Archaeological sites of Niger. Key to sites (in alphabetical order): 24. Aderantarat; 6. Adrar Bous; 39. Afnuk; 45. Afunfun; 36. Aghroum Balkorene; 18. Amakon; 26. Anisaman; 32. Areschima; 26. Asaqaru; 28. Assode; 15. Awalawalt; 26. Azelik; 5. Azrou; 55. Bani Bangou; 33. Bilma; 50. Birnin Garafa; 58. Bura; 25. Chin Tafidet; 26. ChinWasadan; 43. ChinWasararan; 34. Dogonboulo; 43. EfeyWaschran; 43. Ekne wan Ataram; 29. Ekouloulef; 1. Emi Lulu; 34. Fachi; 26. Fagochia; 52. Gabu; 63. Gorou Banda; 8. Greboun; 26. Guelele; 18. Ibine; 56. Ikarafane; 17. Ikawaten; 19. In Aridal; 53. In Tachoulen; 39. In Taylalen; 24. In Teduq; 21. In Tekebrin; 25. In Tuduf; 38. InWaggeur; 11. Iwelen; 14. Izouzadene; 47. Janjari; 48. ?Jola; 51. ?Karagu Gamdwa; 61. Kareygoru; 53. Kareygusu; 55. Kase Gorou; 63. Kirkissoy; 59. Kolo; 49. Kufan Kanawa; 50. Likaderi; 16. Madaou´ ela; 13. Mammanet; 40. Marandet; 23. Mentes; 10. Merguigara; 44. Mio; 27. Orofan; 40. Orub; 3. Rocher Toubeau; 62. Rosi; 63. Saguia; 9. Seguedine; 39. Shimumenin; 55. Soumatt; 35. Tadeliza; 38. Taferjit; 31. Tagalagal; 20. Takene Bawat; 22. Tamaya Mellet; 60. Tapague; 46. Tarada; 30. Tasagouacheret; 12. Tassos; 42. Tegef n’Agar; 8. Temet; 37. Termit Egaro; 36. Tezamak; 15. Tibarakatine; 56. Tiguezefen; 54. Tiloa Nord; 53. Tin Farad; 15. Tinguermawen; 4. TinKeradet; 7. Tin Ouaffadene; 59. Tondikwarey; 2. Toummo; 54. Tuizegoru; 27. Tuluk; 41. Tyeral; 56. Wedi Bangou; 57. Yatakala; 52. Yasaan.
Reading through the paper, it suggests that the North African Aterian people penetrated as far south as Niger:
Niger sites such as Seguedine and Adrar Bous represented both the southernmost and the latest expansion of Aterian toolmakers from the Mediterranean shores, stopped by large marshy expanses in the Lake Chad area perhaps as late as 8000 years ago (see also D´eb´enath, 1992). Tillet (1989) attributed an age of some 20,000 to 30,000 years to the Aterian of Niger, as did Clark (1973a) at the time of the original excavations of Adrar Bous.
Which might explain the R1 and trace U6 in West Africa. Although it’s hard to tell just who the Aterian really relates to. The backmigration from Asia seems to have a date of about 35k or older in North Africa now, but in places the Aterian overlaps it and seems to go before it- although the ancient North African population prior to the backmigration doesn’t seem to have left any traceable DNA anywhere. This second quote also seems to suggest a second later population moving from North Africa southwards: I’ve seen similarities between the Holocene Libyan Sahara and Niger noted in more than publication. Ounan points are typically Mahgrebian, and are seen in the desert as far West as Egypt, and into Mali (the Mechtoid populations range) and it vanishes about 7,000 BP, with the arrival of the Capsian neolithic tradition.
It is not clear, either, whether the Aterian toolmakers were the last Paleolithic occupants of Niger. Examining two surface exposures at Adrar Bous and a deflating terrace feature at Greboun, Clark (1976) identified an Epipaleolithic industry characterized by specialized forms of retouched blades and bladelets (including the [often asymmetrically] tanged Ounan point) and by the absence of microlithic pieces. Clark (1973a, 1976) proposes, principally on the basis of the occurrence of Ounan points, that the Adrar Bous and Greboun assemblages represent the tail end of a general phenomenon of diffusion of northern blade industries throughout the Sahara, beginning some time after 12,000 years ago; the (undated) Adrar Bous and Greboun evidence is thought to be some 8000 years old.
Which would probably be the ‘mechtoid’ populations of the Sahara. This paper also has some details on the appearance of domesticated cattle and metallurgy in Niger.