Location of Diy-Gid-Biy sites on map of Cameroon
Location Cameroon
Coordinates 10°55′N 13°50′E / 10.917°N 13.833°E / 10.917; 13.833Coordinates: 10°55′N 13°50′E / 10.917°N 13.833°E / 10.917; 13.833

The Diy-Gid-Biy (DGB) sites are archaeological sites located around the Mandara Mountains of northern Cameroon and Nigeria. These sites get their name Diy-Gid-Biy from the Mafa language, which can be translated as "place of chiefly residence." There are 16 of these DGB sites which date back to around the 15th century AD.[1] While knowledge of these sites has existed for some time, it wasn't until 2001 that archaeologists began to investigate the sites and their cultural heritage in relation to the region.[1]


The site

The Diy-Gid-Biy sites are of varying sizes, with DGB-1 and 2 being the largest. They are spread out over approximately 25 km, although DGB-1 and 2 are only 100 meters apart and are sometimes referred to as the same site.[2] The DGB sites are constructed in a system of terraces and platforms built using a dry stone architecture that doesn't appear in any other sites, with stairs and silos being placed throughout. Based on research done by archaeologists, the DGB sites were built in several phases by the original builders who created sever layers of terraces and expanded the sites. The sites were then abandoned by the builders, but some were later on modified by the Mafa who filled in some of the areas with rubble and repurposed the bricks for various reasons.[3]

Through the use of radiocarbon dating, archaeologists have been able to determine that the majority of the 16 sites were first constructed in the 15th century, although the wide range of dates from the various stages of development had originally made it difficult to figure out the structures beginnings. DGB-1 is a unique anomaly though in that radiocarbon dating places that particular site's origins back farther to around 1250 AD. At this site there has also been evidence that a pre-DGB culture lived at this location before construction was started, but little is truly known about this earlier people.[4]

Excavation and discovery

Although knowledge of the sites has existed for many years, true archaeological research only began in 2001 with the excavations of DGB-2 and 8 by Nicholas David.[1] A number of artifacts have been found at the sites, with items such as various ceramics originating from the Mandara Mountain region. At DGB-1 though, while regional items such as pottery and stone tools were found, other artifacts such as copper and glass items that didn't originate from the area were discovered as well, thus indicating that the people of DGB-1 had contact with peoples of other areas, something that wasn't as evident through previously excavated artifacts.[4]

Hypothesis of use

Based on the archaeology done around the sites, as well as traditions used by the modern Mafa of the region, experts believe that the DGB sites were constructed as ritual structures relating to rain and water. The DGB sites began to appear around the time that a severe drought was occurring in the region, and so the construction makes sense in regards to ritual practices of the Mafa today who inhabit the region. Archaeologists have also found a large amount of sand and gravel from a local river that had been brought to DGB-2 and 8, possibly as a physical representation of flowing water.[4]

World Heritage Status

This site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on April 18, 2006 in the Cultural category and continues to remain on the Tentative list today.[5]


  1. 1 2 3 Jean-Marie Datouang Djoussou, Archaeology and cultural heritage in Cameroon: the case of the DGB sites, Antiquity,
  2. MacEachern, Scott (2012-09-01). "Wandala and the DGB sites: political centralisation and its alternatives north of the Mandara Mountains, Cameroon". Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa. 47 (3): 272–287. doi:10.1080/0067270X.2012.707480. ISSN 0067-270X.
  3. "Produced by Mandaras Publishing - - © Gerhard Muller-Kosack". Retrieved 2016-11-02. External link in |title= (help)
  4. 1 2 3 Magnavita, Sonja. Crossroads / Carrefour Sahel: Cultural and technological developments in First Millennium BC/AD West Africa. Journal of African Archaeology Monograph Series, Germany, 2009
  5. Les Diy-Gid-Biy du Mont Mandara - UNESCO World Heritage Centre

Further Reading

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/17/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.