CIC 2022 : Conférence Internationale du CERDOTOLA 2022

Information sur l'intervenant

Pr Augustin Holl

Xiamen University


Professor Augustin F. C. Holl: Distinguished Professor, Department of Anthropology and Ethnology, School of Sociology and Anthropology, Xiamen University Director, Africa Research Center, the Belt and Road Institute, President, International Scientific Committee for Volume IX of General History of Africa, UNESCO, 2012-2014 Vice-President, International Relations, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, France, 2012-2014 Director, Confucius Institute, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, France. Deputy Director, French National Center for Scientific Research Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, Paris, France, Member of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). In 2017, Prof. Augustin Holl donated his precious archaeological collection of cultural relics to Xiamen University (XMU) for teaching and research and established a professional laboratory of archaeological anthropology. Under his facilitation, the UNESCO Conference of General History of Africa Volume IX was held at XMU in December 2017. Research areas: African history; prehistoric archaeology; bioarchaeology.


Titre de la communication

“Technology and Science in Initial Africa: Evolutionary Perspectives”

Résumé de Communication


There are two complementary legitimate ways of addressing the topic of Initial Africa contributions to technology and sciences. One is to focus on the contributions of Africans and people of African descent world-wide as far back as the documentation allows it. The other is to confine oneself to Africa continent only and trace the major early inventions and discoveries in the long-term perspective. It is the latter perspective that is adopted in this short note. 

Archaeologically speaking, technological achievements are clearly easier to grasp than conceptual scientific innovations that take place in human minds. There is no doubt that thought exercise is common practice for almost every human being, even if this proposition may be confined to the latest Homo sapiens sapiens. Scientific and technical skills manifest themselves in almost all domains of human activities. They are instrumental in addressing and solving daily life problems through constant innovation. Technology is accordingly the interface between humans and the material world they live in. Changes in all life parameters then require constant adaptation and adjustment. The dynamics of technology is as such generated by the systemic instability and unbalance between goals and means. “Innovation means the act of introducing something new, be it a method, or a thing, either from scratch or from outside”.

Initial and Ancient Africa’s contributions to science and technology is thus presented in the long-term perspective of the continent Initial History, without forays into the more recent periods from Pharaonic Egypt onwards. According to the new periodization developed in the UNESCO General History of Africa project, Africa historical experience started with the Initial History Period – previously termed Prehistory – that lasted up to the emergence of Pharaonic Egypt. It is followed by the Ancient History Period, from Pharaonic Egypt to the sustained encounters with Europe and Asia around 1400-1500 CE. The Modern History Period comes next up to decolonization [1500 – 1950/60 CE], paving the way for the Contemporary History Period in which we are living today. Such a simple systematic that considers human history as a continuum does not require the Prehistory/History divide. There is no “entry into History” through the threshold of “Protohistory” for people emerging from Prehistory and entering “Civilization” as construed in Western worldviews. This presentation focuses on major inventions from Initial and Ancient Africa, ranging from lithic technology to metallurgy.