Prof. Dr. Katharina Neumann


Campus Westend, IG-Farbenhaus
Zimmer Q4, 6.416
Tel.: 069 798-32093
Fax: 069 798-32121

Research topics

•  History of crops, plant use and agricultural systems in Africa
•  African vegetation history
•  Phytoliths (especially taxonomy/nomenclature)
•  Charcoal and wood identification


Research areas

•  West and Central Africa
•  Field research in Sudan, Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, Mali, Cameroon, Kenya



•  2015-2019: Iron Age human subsistence, environment, and climate in the Inner Congo Basin (Democratic Republic of the Congo), with Prof. H.-P. Wotzka (DFG)
•  2016-2019: Phytoliths and Late Quaternary vegetation history of West Africa (DFG)
•  2009-2017: Long-term project: Development of complex societies in sub-Saharan Africa: The Nigerian Nok Culture, with Prof. P. Breunig (DFG)
•  2010/11: Human impact in coastal West Central Africa from the Iron Age to colonial times reflected in the charcoal of Dibamba 1 (DFG)
•  2008-2010: Archéologie du Paysage en Pays Dogon (APPD), in cooperation with partners from the universities Angers, Caen, Rouen (France) (DFG-ANR / Agence National de Recherche)
•  2005-2008: Holocene vegetation history of Ounjougou (Mali), in cooperation with Universities Genève, Caen, Angers (DFG)
•  2003-2009: Research Unit 510, Ecological and cultural change in West and Central Africa (DFG)
•  1999-2002: The Dahomey Gap: Vegetation history of the forest-savanna boundary in Benin and Southwest Nigeria , in cooperation with Universities Cotonou, Ibadan, Angers (VW Foundation)
•  1988-2002: Vegetation history and archaeobotany in the West African savannas, in Collaborative Research Center 268 West African Savanna (DFG)
•  1983-1988: Holocene vegetation history of the Eastern Sahara, in Project Settlement history of the Eastern Sahara  (Director: Dr. Rudolph Kuper), University of Cologne (DFG)

more details on

Selected publications

In press
Höhn, A. & Neumann, K.: Palaeovegetation of Janruwa (Nigeria) and its implications for the decline of the Nok Culture. Journal of African Archaeology.


Collura, L.V. & Neumann, K.: Wood and bark phytoliths of West African woody plants. Quaternary International. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2015.12.070
Neumann, K., Fahmy, A., Müller-Scheeßel, N. & Schmidt, M.: Taxonomic, ecological and palaeoecological significance of leaf phytoliths in West African grasses. Quaternary International. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2015.11.039 

Neumann, K.: In memoriam Ahmad Gamal el-Din Fahmy, March 5th 1962 to December 18th 2013.
Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 24: 3-4.

Eichhorn, B. & Neumann, K.: Holocene vegetation change and land use at Ounjougou, Mali. In: Stevens, C.J., Nixon, S., Murray, M.A. & Fuller, D. (eds.): Archaeology of African Plant Use. Walnut Creek (Left Coast Press): 83-96.
Ozainne, S., Lespez, L., Garnier, A., Ballouche, A., Neumann, K., Pays, O. & Huysecom, E.: A question of timing: spatio-temporal structure and mechanisms of early agriculture expansion in West Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science 50: 359-368.
Garnier, A., Neumann, K., Eichhorn, B. & Lespez, L. Phytolith taphonomy in the middle- to late-Holocene fluvial sediments of Ounjougou (Mali, West Africa). The Holocene 23(3): 416-431.
Höhn, A. & Neumann, K.: Shifting cultivation and cultural landscape development during the Iron Age (0-1500 AD) in the Sahel of Burkina Faso, West Africa – Insights from archaeological charcoal. Quaternary International 249: 72-83.
Neumann, K., K. Bostoen, A. Höhn, S. Kahlheber, A. Ngomanda & Tchiengué, B.: First farmers in the Central African rainforest: A view from southern Cameroon. Quaternary International 249: 53-62.
Neumann, K., M.K.H. Eggert, R. Oslisly, B. Clist, T. Denham, P. de Maret, S. Ozainne, E. Hildebrand, K. Bostoen, U. Salzmann, D. Schwartz, B. Eichhorn, B. Tchiengué & Höhn, A.: Comment on “Intensifying Weathering and Land Use in Iron Age Central Africa”. Science 337: 1040.
Lespez, L., Y. Le Drezen, A. Garnier, M. Rasse, B. Eichhorn, S. Ozainne, A. Ballouche, K. Neumann & Huysecom, E.: High-resolution fluvial records of Holocene environmental changes in the Sahel: the Yamé River at Ounjougou (Mali, West Africa). Quaternary Science Reviews 30 (5-6): 737-756.
Radomski. K.U. & Neumann, K.: Grasses and grinding stones: Inflorescence phytoliths from modern West African Poaceae and archaeological stone artefacts. In: Fahmy, A.G., S. Kahlheber & A.C. Andrea (eds): Windows on the African Past. Current Approaches to African Archaeobotany. Frankfurt am Main (Africa Magna Verlag): 153-166.
Sangen, M., K. Neumann & Eisenberg, J.: Climate-induced dynamics in tropical Africa around the last glacial maximum? Quaternary Research 76: 417-429.
Eichhorn, B., Neumann, K., Garnier, A.: Seed phytoliths in West African Commelinaceae and their potential for palaeoecological studies. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 298: 300-310.
Huysecom, E., M. Rasse, L. Lespez, K. Neumann, A. Fahmy, A. Ballouche, S. Ozainne, M. Maggetti, Ch. Tribolo, S. Soriano: The emergence of pottery in Africa during the 10th millennium cal BC: new evidence from Ounjougou (Mali). Antiquity 83 (322): 905-917.
Kahlheber, S., K. Bostoen & K. Neumann: Early plant cultivation in the Central African rain forest: first millennium BC pearl millet from South Cameroon. Journal of African Archaeology 7(2): 253-272.
Neumann, K., A. Fahmy, L. Lespez, A. Ballouche, E. Huysecom: The Early Holocene palaeoenvironment of Ounjougou (Mali): Phytoliths in a multiproxy context. Palaeogeograpphy, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 276: 187-206.
Neumann, K. & E. Hildebrand: Early bananas in Africa: The state of the art. Ethnobotany Research and Applications 7: 353-362.
Ngomanda, A., K. Neumann, A. Schweizer & J. Maley: Seasonality change and the third millennium BP rainforest crisis in Central Africa: a high resolution pollen profile from Nyabessan, southern Cameroon. Quaternary Research 71: 307-318.
Kahlheber, S. & K. Neumann: The development of plant cultivation in semi-arid West Africa. In: Denham, T. P., J. Iriarte & L. Vrydaghs (eds.): Rethinking Agriculture: Archaeological and Ethnoarchaeological Perspectives. One World Archaeology 51. Walnut Creek (Left Coast Press): 320-346.
Breunig, P., B. Eichhorn, S. Kahlheber, V. Linseele, C. Magnavita, K. Neumann, M. Posselt & N. Rupp: G(l)anz ohne Eisen: Große Siedlungen aus der Mitte des ersten Jahrtausends BC im Tschadbecken von Nordost-Nigeria. In: Wotzka, H.-P. (ed.), Grundlegungen. Beiträge zur afrikanischen Archäologie für Manfred K.H. Eggert. Tübingen (Francke): 255-270.
Eggert, M.K.H., A. Höhn, S. Kahlheber, C. Meister, K. Neumann & A. Schweizer: Pits, graves and grains. Archaeological and archaeobotanical research in southern Cameroun. Journal of African Archaeology 4(2): 273-298.
Neumann, K.: The romance of farming - plant cultivation and domestication in Africa. In: A.B. Stahl (ed.): African Archaeology. A Critical Introduction: 249-275. Malden (Blackwell).
Albert, K.-D., D. Löhr & K. Neumann (eds.): Mensch und Natur in Westafrika. Abschlussbuch des Sonderforschungsbereichs 268. Weinheim (Wiley-VCH).
Breunig, P. & K. Neumann: Zwischen Wüste und Regenwald. Besiedlungsgeschichte der westafrikanischen Savannen im Holozän. In: Albert, K.-D., Löhr, D. & K. Neumann (eds.): Mensch und Natur in Westafrika. Abschlussbuch des Sonderforschungsbereichs 268: 93-138. Weinheim (Wiley-VCH).
Neumann, K., K. Hahn-Hadjali & U. Salzmann: Die Savannen der Sudanzone in Westafrika - natürlich oder menschengemacht? In: Albert, K.-D., D. Löhr & K. Neumann (eds.): Mensch und Natur in Westafrika. Abschlussbuch des Sonderforschungsbereichs 268: 39-68. Weinheim (Wiley -VCH).
Neumann, K.: New Guinea: A Cradle of Agriculture. Science 301: 180-181.
Neumann, K.: The late emergence of agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa: Archaeological evidence and ecological considerations. In: Neumann, K., A. Butler & S. Kahlheber (eds.): Food, Fuel and Fields. Progress in African Archaeobotany: 71-92. Africa Praehistorica 15. Köln (Heinrich-Barth-Institut).
Neumann, K., A. Butler & S. Kahlheber (eds.): Food, Fuel and Fields. Progress in African Archaeobotany. Africa Praehistorica 15. Köln (Heinrich-Barth-Institut).
Breunig, P. & K. Neumann: From hunters and gatherers to food producers: new archaeological and archaeobotanical evidence from the West African Sahel. In: F. Hassan (ed.): Ecological Change and Food Security in Africa's Later Prehistory: 123-155. New York (Kluwer Academic / Plenum Publishers).
Breunig, P. & K. Neumann: Continuity or discontinuity? The 1st millennium BC-crisis in West African prehistory. - In: Lenssen-Erz, T. et al. (ed.): Tides of the Desert. Contributions to the Archaeology and Environmental History of Africa in Honour of Rudolph Kuper: 491-505. Africa Praehistorica 14, Köln (Heinrich-Barth-Institut).
Frank, Th., P. Breunig, P. Müller-Haude, W. Van Neer, K. Neumann, R. Vogelsang & H.-P. Wotzka: The Chaîne de Gobnangou in SE Burkina Faso: archaeological, archaeobotanical, archaeozoological and geomorphological studies. Berichte zur Allgemeinen und Vergleichenden Archäologie 21: 127-190.
Kahlheber, S. & K. Neumann (eds.): Man and Environment in the West African Sahel - an Interdisciplinary Approach. Berichte des Sonderforschungsbereichs 268, 17, Frankfurt am Main.
Neumann, K., W. Schoch, F.H. Schweingruber & P. Détienne: Hölzer der Sahara und des Sahel - ein anatomischer Atlas. Paul Haupt, Bern & Stuttgart.
Klee, M., B. Zach & K. Neumann: Four thousand years of plant exploitation in the Chad Basin of northeast Nigeria: The archaeobotany of Kursakata. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 9: 223-237.
Breunig, P. & K. Neumann: Archäologische und archäobotanische Forschung in Westafrika. Archäologisches Nachrichtenblatt 4: 336-357.
Neumann, K.: Charcoal from West African savanna sites - questions of identification and interpretation. In: Van der Veen M (ed.) The exploitation of plant resources in ancient Africa. Plenum Publishers, New York: 205-219.
Neumann, K.: Early plant food production in the West African Sahel - new evidence from the Frankfurt project. In: Van der Veen M (ed.) The exploitation of plant resources in ancient Africa. Plenum Publishers, New York: 73-80.
Neumann, K. & P. Müller-Haude: Forêts sèches au sud-ouest du Burkina Faso: végétations - sols - action de l'homme. Phytocoenologia 29(1): 53-85.
Neumann, K., S. Kahlheber & D. Uebel: Remains of woody plants from Saouga, a medieval West African village. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 7(2): 57-77.
Breunig, P., Neumann, K. & W. Van Neer: New research on the Holocene settlement and environment of the Chad Basin in Nigeria. Afr. Arch. Rev. 13(2): 111-145.
Neumann, K., A. Ballouche & M. Klee: The emergence of plant food production in the West African Sahel: new evidence from northeast Nigeria and northern Burkina Faso. In: Pwiti, G. & R. Soper (eds.): Aspects of African Archaeology. Papers from the 10th Congress of the PanAfrican Association for Prehistory and Related Studies: 441-448; Harare (University of Harare Publications).
Zach, B., H. Kirscht, D. Löhr, K. Neumann & E. Platte: Masakwa dry season cropping in the Chad Basin. Berichte des Sonderforschungsbereichs 268 8: 349-356, Frankfurt am Main.
Ballouche, A. & K. Neumann: A new contribution to the Holocene vegetation history of the West African Sahel: pollen from Oursi, Burkina Faso and charcoal from three sites in northeast Nigeria. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 1995(4): 31-39.
Neumann, K.: The contribution of anthracology to the study of the late Quaternary vegetation history of the Mediterranean region and Africa. Bull. Soc. bot. Fr.139, Actual. bot. (2/3/4): 421-440
Neumann, K.: Une flore soudanienne au Sahara central vers 7000 B.P.: les charbons de bois de Fachi/Niger. Bull. Soc. bot. Fr. 139, Actual. bot. 2/3/4: 565-570.
Neumann, K.: Holocene vegetation of the Eastern Sahara: charcoal from prehistoric sites. African Archaeological Review 7: 97-116.
Neumann, K.: Vegetationsgeschichte der Ostsahara im Holozän. Holzkohlen aus prähistorischen Fundstellen. In: Kuper, R. (ed.): Forschungen zur Umweltgeschichte der Ostsahara: 13-181; Köln (Heinrich-Barth-Institut).
Neumann, K.: Middle Holocene vegetation of the Gilf Kebir/SW-Egypt - a reconstruction. Palaeoecology Africa 18: 179-188.
Neumann, K.: The Jebel Tagern: A contribution to the flora of the Southern Libyan Desert. Journal Arid Environments 12: 27-39.
Neumann, K. & E. Schulz: Middle Holocene savanna vegetation in the Central Sahara - preliminary report. Palaeoecology of Africa 18: 163-166.
Neumann, K.: Untersuchung der Holzkohlen. In: E. Cziesla: Bericht über die Grabungen 1980 und 1983 in der Weidentalhöhle bei Wilgartswiesen, Pfälzer Wald. Mitteilungen des Historischen Vereins Pfalz 84: 48-51.