Ancient Stone Circles of Senegambia

The ancient stone circles consists of four large groups of stone circles that represent an extraordinary concentration of over 1,000 monuments in a band 100 km wide along some 350 km of the River Gambia. The four groups, Sine Ngayène, Wanar, Wassu and Kerbatch, cover 93 stone circles and numerous tumuli, burial mounds, some of which have been excavated to reveal material that suggest dates between 3rd century BC and 16th century AD. 

Together the stone circles of laterite pillars and their associated burial mounds present a vast sacred landscape created over more than 1,500 years. It reflects a prosperous, highly organized and lasting society.

The history of the Senegambian Stone Circles is not entirely certain. Dating of the burial mounds pushes them back to about the 3rd century BCE, and the most recent appear to be from the 16th century. The bulk of the stones, however, do seem to have been erected sometime between 640 and 860.

The densest concentration within the Senegambian Stone Circles, and thus the area most people visit, is the area around Djalloumbéré and Wassau. There are more than 50circles in this region, with more than 1000 stones among them. The village of Wassau also has a museum dedicated to the Senegambian Stone Circles, giving visitors a great deal of information on them, and providing basic maps to find them.

There are four main groups within the Senegambian Stone Circles as defined by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, mostly along the River Gambia. Aside from Wassau, these groups are Kerbatch, Sine Ngayéne, and Wanar.
Although the Senegambian Stone Circles appear to many people to be laid out fairly sporadically and randomly, closer examination reveals this not to be the case. The circlesactually rely on fairly complex geometric relationships between stones.

One of the largest mysteries around the Senegambian Stone Circles is who exactly erected them. The sheer quantity and consistency suggests a fairly cohesive society, and it is said that the people buried in the mounds are generally kings or chiefs, and later, after the advent of Islam, important and devout Muslims.

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