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Welcome to African Archaeology!

The Journal of African Archaeology is an international peer-reviewed periodical appearing half-yearly since 2003. It publishes original papers addressing recent research and developments in African archaeology and related disciplines. The journal's main purpose is to provide scholars and students with a new pan-African forum for discussing relevant topics on the cultural dynamics of past African societies.

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Vol. 7 (1) 2009

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E.N. Wilmsen, D. Killick, D.D. Rosenstein, P.C. Thebe & J.R. Denbow

The social geography of pottery in Botswana as reconstructed by optical petrography

Journal of African Archaeology, Volume 7 (1), 2009, pages 3-39, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-10125

Abstract
Over the last 30 years Wilmsen and Denbow have recov­ered and studied pottery from 28 sites in Botswana dated between ca cal AD 200 and AD 1885. Some sherds in several of these assemblages appear, on stylistic evidence, to have been made in other sub-regions of Botswana than where they were found. These inferences are confirmed in this paper by use of an independent archaeometric tech­nique, optical petrography. We are able to demonstrate the transport of pots from the Okavango Delta to Bosutswe in the eastern hardveld, some 400–600 km distant, as early as cal AD 900–1100, and of others over equal distances to the Tsodilo Hills probably before that time. We are also able to demonstrate several shorter itineraries at contem­porary and later times in the Tsodilo-Delta-Chobe region as well as in the hardveld. Furthermore, we demonstrate that clays were transported from geological deposits to sites where pots were made from them. We consider some implications of these findings for a deeper appreciation of the movement of peoples and goods at several time periods of the past and present as well as further implications for understanding the participation of the region in the Indian Ocean trade during the 8th–10th centuries.

Résumé
Au cours des 30 dernières années, Wilmsen et Denbow ont récolté et étudié la poterie de 28 sites archéologiques du Botswana, datés entre approximativement 200 et 1885 ap. J.C. L'analyse stylistique de la poterie indique que plusieurs tessons parmi ces assemblages proviendraient d'autres sous-régions du Botswana que celles où ils ont été trouvés. Nous présentons dans cet article les travaux de pétrographie optique, une technique archéométrique indépendante, qui nous ont permis de confirmer ces pre­mières hypothèses. Nous avons pu démontrer le transport des pots du delta d'Okavango à Bosutswe dans le « hard­veld » oriental, à quelque 400–600 km, dès 900–1100 ap. J.C., ainsi que le transport d'autres pots sur des distances équivalentes vers les collines de Tsodilo, probablement avant cette période. Nous établissons également l'existen­ce de plusieurs itinéraires plus courts, contemporains et postérieurs, dans la région de Tsodilo-Delta-Chobe ainsi que dans le « hardveld ». En outre, nous prouvons que des argiles ont été transportées des dépôts géologiques jusqu'aux sites où elles ont été transformées en poteries. Nous considérons les implications de ces résultats pour une meilleure appréciation de la circulation des peuples et des cultures matérielles à différentes périodes, dans le passé et le présent, et, au-delà, les implications pour la compréhension de la participation de la région dans le commerce de l'Océan Indien pendant les 8e-10e siècles.




Keywords: Botswana, exchange networks, optical petrography, pottery analysis


© Copyright: Africa Magna Verlag 2011
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Editors:
Sonja Magnavita, Peter Breunig

Book Review Editor:
Katie Manning, UK

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Graham Connah, Australia
Shadreck Chirikure, South Africa
A. Catherine D'Andrea, Canada
Manfred K.H. Eggert, Germany
Elena Garcea, Italy
Diane Gifford-Gonzalez, USA
Timothy Insoll, UK
Tom Huffman, South Africa
Eric Huysecom, Switzerland
David Killick, USA
Savino di Lernia, Italy
Alexandre Livingstone Smith, Belgium
Scott MacEachern, USA
David Mattingly, UK
Susan Keech McIntosh, USA
David W. Phillipson, UK
Gilbert Pwiti, Zimbabwe
Peter Robertshaw, USA
Robert Vernet, France
Lyn Wadley, South Africa

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Sam Nixon, UK
Gaby Franke, Germany
Annabelle Gallin, France
Richard Byer, Germany

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Carlos Magnavita, Germany


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