Gabon: At the National Museum, a virtual exhibition to revisit the country’s Middle Ages

Gabon: At the National Museum, a virtual exhibition to revisit the country's Middle Ages

#Gabon : “From Shadow to Light” is the theme of a virtual exhibition that has been taking place for a few days at the National Museum of Arts, Rituals and Traditions in Libreville. It is the result of the reconstruction of sites from the Gabonese Middle Ages, corresponding to the age of cut stone.

It is at the bottom of Irungo Cave, hidden in the dense forest of southern Gabon, that geoarchaeologist Richard Oslisley discovered in late 2018 a pit filled with skeletons and artifacts dating back to the 14th century. Traces the main axes of movement of Gabon’s first inhabitants and their commercial axes. The find involved 17 human skeletons, 1,490 calcite beads, 39 teeth and 127 perforated seashells. It is a precious heritage, unique in the sub-region and the continent.

“If you have piles of bones and objects, it means the characters are important. We need to know when it was dated and carry out a series of analyses. We worked with 3D modelling. We brought in modeling experts from the University of Bordeaux to scan the cave. The bones were dated using the Carbon 14 method. .This has led to their dating back to the 14th century,” says Auslisley, curator of the exhibition.

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These objects and human bones were found in three levels, at the end of a 25-meter rope needed to touch the bottom of the cave, a real “Ali Baba cave” discovered by this French researcher. Many of these substances have no known functions. Richard Auslisley even had “teeth taken from a burial ground for genetic analysis”. “We got the first genetic analyses. We can tell that this population had a genetic history as far as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi. It’s interesting to see that these populations migrated with genes from these regions,” he says.

The exhibition attracts and sparks the interest of schoolchildren and students who flock to the National Museum in dozens to enter the universe of this amazing invention. “Indeed we have come to see the cave we heard about. (…) It’s wonderful to see the beauty of what we have in the soil of Gabonese,” rejoices Lutricia Bayon, who visited the exhibition.

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In villages around Iroungou, researchers interviewed elders. In vain, no one knows of the existence of this cave, and the villagers say they have no idea who these men and women could be. According to the latest news, the research started to further deepen the knowledge of the cave continues till date.

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