Radiocarbon Investigation of the Historic African Baobabs of Omusati, Namibia

TitleRadiocarbon Investigation of the Historic African Baobabs of Omusati, Namibia
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsPatrut, A, Patrut, RT, Rakosy, L, Rakosy, D, Oliver, W, Ratiu, IA, Lowy, DA, Shiimbi, G, Woodborne, S, von Reden, KF
Date Published11/2022

The Omusati region belongs to historic Ovamboland, an area of northern Namibia populated by tribes of the Ovambo group. Four very large African baobabs of Omusati played an important role in historic events of the area, such as the tribal wars and the Namibian War of Independence. The four historic baobabs are the Ombalantu baobab (8 stems; circumference 24.50 m), Okahao baobab (4+ stems; around 25 m), Amadhila baobab (12 stems; 25.35 m) and Sir Howard baobab (9 stems; 31.60 m). Two historic baobabs collapsed totally or partially. The stems of the Amadhila baobab toppled and died in 2021, while 3 stems of the Okahao baobab collapsed a long time ago, but are still alive. Our research aimed to determine the architecture and age of these baobabs. Three baobabs (Ombalantu, Amadhila, Sir Howard) exhibit a closed ring-shaped structure, with a false cavity inside. One baobab (Okahao) had an open ring-shaped structure, before its collapse. Several wood cores were extracted from the baobabs and investigated by radiocarbon dating. The dating results indicate ages of 770 ± 50 years for the Ombalantu baobab, 650 ± 50 years for the Okahao baobab, 1100 ± 50 years for the Amadhila baobab and 750 ± 50 years for the Sir Howard baobab.