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



•  2009-2020: Long-term project: Development of complex societies in sub-Saharan Africa: The Nigerian Nok Culture, with Prof. P. Breunig (DFG)
•  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)
•  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


* with peer-review, books

2019, in press

  • * Neumann, K., Albert, R.M., Ball, T., Scott Cummings, L., Strömberg, C.A. & Vrydaghs, L. (International Committee for Phytolith Taxonomy, ICPT): International Code of Phytolith Nomenclature, ICPN 2.0. Annals of Botany.


  • * Clist, B., Bostoen, K., de Maret, P., Eggert, M., Höhn, A., Mbida Mindzie, C., Neumann, K. & D. Seidensticker: Did human activity really trigger the Late Holocene rainforest crisis in Central Africa? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
  • * Neumann, K.: Development of Plant Food Production in the West African Savannas: Archaeobotanical Perspectives. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History. doi: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190277734.013.138


  • * Collura, L.V. & Neumann, K.: Wood and bark phytoliths of West African woody plants. Quaternary International 434: 142-159.
  • Neumann, K.: Klima, Mensch und Vegetation im Holozän Westafrikas. In: Rupp, N. Beck, C., Franke, G. & Wendt, K.P. (eds.): Winds of Change. Archaeological Contributions in Honour of Peter Breunig. Bonn (Rudolf Habelt): 343-354.
  • * Neumann, K., Fahmy, A., Müller-Scheeßel, N. & Schmidt, M.: Taxonomic, ecological and palaeoecological significance of leaf phytoliths in West African grasses. Quaternary International 434: 13-32.


  • * Höhn, A. & Neumann, K.: Palaeovegetation of Janruwa (Nigeria) and its implications for the decline of the Nok Culture. Journal of African Archaeology 14(3): 331-353.
  • * Neumann, K., Chevalier, A. & Vrydaghs, L. Phytoliths in archaeology: recent advances. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. doi 10.1007/s00334-016-0598-3


  • 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.
  • Höhn, A. & Neumann, K.: Millet and more: Farming and food in the time of the Nok Culture. - In: In: Breunig, P. (ed.): Nok - African Sculpture in Archaeological Context. Frankfurt am Main (Africa Magna Verlag): 178-185.
  • * Kahlheber, S., A. Höhn & Neumann, K.: Plant use in southern Cameroon between 400 BC and 400 AD. - In: Stevens, C.J., Nixon, S., Murray, M.A. & Fuller, D. (eds.): Archaeology of African Plant Use. Walnut Creek (Left Coast Press): 113-128.
  • Neumann, K. & Höhn, A.: The Nok region – a savanna landscape and its history. - In: Breunig, P. (ed.): Nok - African Sculpture in Archaeological Context. Frankfurt am Main (Africa Magna Verlag): 40-49.
  • * 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.
  • Wittig, R. & Neumann, K. Die westafrikanische Savanne - ein Lebensraum unter starkem anthropogenem Einfluss. Berichte der Reinhold-Tüxen-Gesellschaft 25, 150-165.


  • Barton, H., T. Denham, K. Neumann, M. Arroyo-Kalin: Long-term perspectives on human occupation of tropical rainforests: An introductory overview. Quaternary International 249: 1-3.
  • * 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. & Ballouche, A. Das Pollenprofil von Oursi und die Diskussion um die “menschengemachte” westafrikanische Savanne. In: Stobbe, A. & Tegtmeier, U. (ed.) Verzweigungen. Eine Würdigung für A.J. Kalis und J. Meurers-Balke. Rudolf Habelt, Köln, pp. 199-206.
  • * 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. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.10.004


  • * 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. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2009.03.001
  • * 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. doi:10.1016/j.yqres.2008.12.002
  • Ozainne, S., L. Lespez, Y. Le Drezen, B. Eichhorn, K. Neumann & E. Huysecom: Developing a chronology integrating archaeological and environmental data from different contexts: the Late Holocene sequence of Ounjougou (Mali). Radiocarbon 51(2): 457–470.


  • * 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.
  • * Höhn, A., S. Kahlheber, K. Neumann & A. Schweizer: Settling the rain forest – the environment of farming communities in Southern Cameroon during the first millennium BC. In: Runge, J. (ed.): Palaeoecology of Africa 28. London (Taylor & Francis): 29-41.


  • 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. (Hrsg.), Grundlegungen. Beiträge zur afrikanischen Archäologie für Manfred K.H. Eggert. Tübingen (Francke): 255-270.
  • Neumann, K.: Ölpalme, Perlhirse und Banane. Wie kam die Landwirtschaft in den Regenwald Zentralafrikas? Forschung Frankfurt 2-3/2006: 38-41.
  • * 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.
  • * Rasse, M., A. Ballouche, E. Huysecom, C. Tribolo, S. Ozainne, Y.  Le Drezen, S. Stokes & K. Neumann: Évolution géomorphologique, enregistrements sédimentaires et dynamiques paléoenvironnementales Holocènes à Ounjougou (Plateau Dogon, Mali, Afrique de l’Ouest). Quaternaire 17 (1): 61-74.


  • * 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).
  • Neumann, K.: Die westafrikanische Savanne - eine Kulturlandschaft. In: Reikat, A. (ed.): Leben in Westafrika: 70-83. Frankfurt a. Main (Plexus-Verlag, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, SFB 268 "Kulturentwicklung und Sprachgeschichte im Naturraum Westafrikanische Savanne).


  • Ballouche, A., A. Akoègninou, K. Neumann,  U. Salzmann & M.A. Sowunmi: Le projet "Dahomey Gap": une contribution à l'histoire de la végétation au Sud-Bénin et Sud-Ouest du Nigéria. Berichte des Sonderforschungsbereichs 268, 14: 237-251. Frankfurt am Main.
  • 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. Ber. Allg. Vergl. Arch. 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.: Masakwa farming in the Chad Basin of northeast Nigeria - Introduction. In: Kahlheber, S. & K. Neumann (eds.): Man and Environment in the West African Sahel - an Interdisciplinary Approach: 9-13. 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.


  • Neumann, K.: Report on the second workshop on the archaeobotany of North Africa. Nyame Akuma 48: 79.


  • * Breunig, P., Neumann, K. & W. Van Neer: New research on the Holocene settlement and environment of the Chad Basin in Nigeria. African Archaeological Review 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 4: 31-39.
  • Ballouche, A. & K. Neumann: La végétation du Sahel Burkinabé à l’Holocène: La Mare d’Oursi. In: 2nd Symposium on African Palynology, Tervuren (Belgium): 19-25; Occasional Publication CIFEG 31, Orléans.
  • Neumann, K. & A. Ballouche: Anthropogenic change in the vegetation history of the Sahel: only a question of viewpoint? In: 2nd Symposium on African Palynology, Tervuren (Belgium): 27-33; Occasional Publication CIFEG 31, Orléans.


  • Neumann, K.: Wirtschaftsweisen im Neolithikum der Ostsahara und ihr Einfluß auf die Vegetation. In: Bollig, M. & F. Klees (ed.): Überlebensstrategien in Afrika: 47-65; Köln (Heinrich-Barth-Institut).


  • Ballouche, A., K. Küppers, K. Neumann & H.P. Wotzka: Aspects de l'occupation humaine et de l'histoire de la végétation au cours de l'Holocène dans la région de la Chaine de Gobnangou, S.E. Burkina Faso. Berichte des Sonderforschungsbereichs 268, 1: 13-31; Frankfurt am Main.
  • Breunig, P., A. Ballouche, K. Neumann, F.W. Rösing, H. Thiemeyer, P. Wendt & W. van Neer: Gajiganna. New data on early settlement and environment in the Chad basin. Berichte des Sonderforschungsbereichs 268, 2: 51-74; Frankfurt am Main.
  • Neumann, K.: Holocene vegetation of the Eastern Sahara: charcoal from prehistoric sites. In: Krzyzaniak, L., M. Kobusiewicz & J. Alexander (eds.): Environmental change and human culture in the Nile basin and Northern Africa until the second millenium B.C.: 153-169. Studies in African Archaeology 4, Poznan (Poznan Archaeological Museum).


  • * Neumann, K.: The contribution of anthracology to the study of the late Quaternary vegetation history of the Mediterranean region and Africa. Bulletin de la Societé botanique de France139, Actualités botaniques 2/3/4: 421-440
  • * Neumann, K.: Une flore soudanienne au Sahara central vers 7000 B.P.: les charbons de bois de Fachi/Niger. Bulletin de la Societé botanique de France 139, Actualités botaniques 2/3/4: 565-570.
  • Neumann, K. & A. Ballouche: Die Chaine de Gobnangou in SE Burkina Faso - ein Beitrag zur Vegetationsgeschichte der Sudanzone W-Afrikas. Geobot. Kolloq. 8: 53-68.
  • Vermeersch, P.M., E. Paulissen, D. Huyge, K. Neumann, W. Van Neer & P. Van Peer: Predynastic hearths in Upper Egypt. In: Friedman, R. & B. Adams (eds.): The Followers of Horus. Studies dedicated to M. A. Hoffman: 163-172; Egyptian Studies Assoc. Publ. 2. Oxbow Monograph 20.


  • * Neumann, K.: In search for the green Sahara: Palynology and botanical macroremains. Palaeoecology of Africa 22: 203-212.


  • * Neumann, K.: Holocene vegetation of the Eastern Sahara: charcoal from prehistoric sites. Afr. Arch. Rev. 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.: Die Bedeutung von Holzkohleuntersuchungen für die Vegetationsgeschichte der Sahara: Das Beispiel Fachi/Niger. Würzburger Geogr. Arb. 69: 71-85.


  • * Neumann, K.: Middle Holocene vegetation of the Gilf Kebir/SW-Egypt - a reconstruction. Palaeoecol. Africa 18: 179-188.
  • * Neumann, K.: The Jebel Tagern: A contribution to the flora of the Southern Libyan Desert. J. Arid Environments 12: 27-39.
  • Neumann, K. & E. Schulz: Végétation holocène dans le Sahara Central. Géodynamique 2(2): 150-153; Bondy (O.R.S.T.O.M.).
  • * 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. Mitt. Hist. Vereins Pfalz 84: 48-51.