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Patterning in Recent Radiocarbon Dates from Southern Africa as a Reflection of Prehistoric Settlement and Interaction

  • John Parkington (a1) and Martin Hall (a1)
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Radiocarbon dates published by southern African archaeologists since the last review in this journal (in 1980) illustrate an increasingly complex record of population movement and interaction. Substantial gaps in the distributions of dates reflect the ebb and flow of people in response to changing environmental and social circumstances. More interesting perhaps is the range of intergroup relations now emerging from the last two millennia with the appearance of pastoralists and agriculturalists. Radiocarbon dates, taken along with spatial and formal patterns in the archaeological record, show clearly that the distributions between hunters, herders and farmers and between Stone Age and Iron Age communities were blurred and flexible.

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1 Previous reviews of southern African radiocarbon dates which have appeared in this Journal include those by Hall, Martin and Vogel, J. C. (XXI, iv, 1980, 431–55), Maggs, Tim (XVII, ii,1977, 161–91),Soper, R. C. (xv, ii, 1974, 175–92),Sutton, J. E. G. (XIII, i, 1972, 1–24) and Phillipson, D. W. (XI, I, 1970, 1–15).

2 Hall, Martin and Vogel, J. C., ‘Some recent radiocarbon dates from southern Africa,’ J. Afr. Hist., XXI, iv (1980), 431.

3 Freundlich, J. C., Schwabedissen, H. and Wendt, W. E., ‘Köln radiocarbon measurements II,’ Radiocarbon, XXII, i (1980), 6881.Vogel, J. C. and Visser, Ebbie, ‘Pretoria radiocarbon dates II,’ Radiocarbon, XXIII, i (1981), 4380.

4 Denbow, J. R. and Wilmsen, E. N., ‘Iron Age pastoralist settlements in Botswana,’ S. Afr. J. Sci., XXIX (1983), 406.

5 Wilmsen, E. N., ‘The impact of land tenure policies on the future of the San’ (paper presented at the International Symposium on African Hunter Gatherers, Cologne, 1985), 2.

6 Denbow, J. R, ‘Cows and Kings: a spatial and economic analysis of a hierarchical Early Iron Age settlement system in Eastern Botswana’ in Hall, M., Avery, G., Avery, D. M., Wilson, M. L. and Humphreys, A. J. B. (eds.), Frontiers: Southern African Archaeology Today (British Archaeological Reports, International Series, 207) (Oxford, 1984), 2439.

7 Denbow and Wilmsen, ‘Iron Age pastoralist settlements,’ 406.

9 Alexander, J., ‘Early frontiers in southern Africa,’ in Hall et al., Frontiers, 12.

10 Wilmsen, ‘Impact of land tenure policies,’ 2.

11 Humphreys, A. J. B. and Thackeray, A. I., Ghaap and Gariep (South African Archaeological Society Monograph Series, 2) (Cape Town, 1983).

12 Deacon, J., ‘Patterning in the radio-carbon dates for the Wilton/Smithfield complex in southern Africa,’ S. Afr. Archaeol. Bull., XXIX (1974), 318.

13 Sampson, C. G., ‘The Stone Age industries of the Orange River scheme and South Africa,’ Memoirs of the National Museum (Bloemfontein), VI (1982), 1288.

14 Humphreys, A. J. B., ‘The Holocene sequence in the northern Cape and its position in the prehistory of South Africa’ (Ph.D. thesis, University of Cape Town, 1979).

15 Deacon, H. J., Where Hunters Gathered (South African Archaeological Society Monograph Series, 1) (Cape Town, 1976).

16 PTA-2140, PTA-2541, PTA-2542, PTA-2543, PTA-2544, PTA-2545, PTA-2546, PTA-2723, PTA-2727, PTA-2728, PTA-2729, PTA-2779, PTA-2785, PTA-2790, PTA-2797, PTA-2798, PTA-2852, SI-2030. Humphreys and Thackeray, Ghaap and Gariep, 45–6.

17 PTA-2447, PTA-2448, PTA-2490; Ibid, 175.

18 Hall and Vogel, ‘Recent radiocarbon dates’.

19 Deacon, Where Hunters Gathered, 222.

20 Sampson, C. G., Stone Age Archaeology of Southern Africa (New York, 1974), 331.

21 Ibid

22 Ibid

23 Bakker, E. M. van Zinderen, ‘Comparison of Late Quaternary climatic evolutions in the Sahara and the Namib—Kalahari region,’ Palaeoecology of Africa, XII (1980), 390.

24 Humphreys and Thackeray, Ghaap and Gariep, 94–5.

25 PTA-2835, 2840: Ibid, 103.

26 PTA-186: Ibid

27 Previous estimates of about 400 years before the present appear in Humphreys, ‘The Holocene sequence,’ and in Klein, R. G., ‘Palaeoenvironmental and cultural implications of late Holocene archaeological faunas from the Orange Free State and north-central Cape Province, South Africa,’ S. Afr. Archaeol. Bull., XXXIV (1979), 3449.

28 Humphreys and Thackeray, Ghaap and Gariep, 175.

29 PTA-1621, 1759, 2095: Ibid, 205.

30 PTA-3413, 3412: Ibid, 159.

31 Stow, G. W., The Native Races of South Africa (London, 1905; reprinted New Haven, 1977);Deacon, H. J., Deacon, J., Brooker, M. and Wilson, M. L., ‘The evidence for herding at Boomplaas Cave in the southern Cape, South Africa,’ S. Afr. Archaeol. Bull., XXXIII (1978), 3965;Robertshaw, P. T., ‘The origin of pastoralism in the Cape,’ S. Afr. Hist. J., X (1978), 117133.

32 Elphick, R., Khoikhoi and the Founding of White South Africa (Johannesburg, 1985). This interpretation has been supported, on linguistic grounds, by Ehret, C., ‘The first spread of food production in southern Africa,’ in Ehret, C. and Posnansky, M. (eds.), The Archaeological and Linguistic Reconstruction of African history (Berkeley, 1982), 158–81.

33 Beaumont, P. B., ‘On the origins of Hottentot culture in southern Africa,’ S. Afr. Archaeol. Soc. Newsletter, III, i (1980), 23.

34 Beaumont, P. B. and Vogel, J. C., ‘Spatial patterning of the ceramic Later Stone Age in the northern Cape Province, South Africa’ in Hall, et al. (eds.), Frontiers, 8095.

35 PTA-3359: Rudner, I. and Rudner, J., ‘Wilton sand-dune sites in north-western Cape and South Vest Africa,’ S. Afr. Archaeol. Bull., XIV (1959), 142–5;Beaumont and Vogel, ‘Spatial patterning,’ 94.

36 PTA-3088: Beaumont and Vogel, ‘Spatial patterning,’ 94.

37 PTA-3093: Ibid

38 PTA-3094: Ibid, 95.

39 PTA-964: Ibid, 94.

40 PTA-3357: Rudner and Rudner, ‘Wilton sand-dune sites’;Beaumont and Vogel, ‘Spatial patterning,’ 92.

41 PTA-3109: Beaumont and Vogel, ‘Spatial patterning,’ 94.

42 PTA-3417: Ibid, 93.

43 PTA-2833, 2841, 3419: Thackeray, A. I., Thackeray, J. F. and Beaumont, P. B., ‘Excavations at the Blinkklipkop specularite mine near Postmasburg, northern Cape,’ S. Afr. Archaeol. Bull., XXXVII (1983), 1725.

44 PTA-3444, 3462, 3462: Beaumont and Vogel, ‘Spatial patterning,’ 95.

45 PTA-186, 3089: Ibid, 92.

46 PTA-2452: Ibid, 91.

47 PTA-3401: Humphreys, ‘The Holocene sequence’.

48 PTA-1621: Ibid

49 PTA-1759, 2095: Ibid

50 PTA-3367, 3421: Beaumont and Vogel, ‘Spatial patterning,’ 95.

51 PTA-1483: Ibid, 93.

52 Freundlich, Schwabedissen and Wendt, ‘Köln radiocarbon measurements’;Vogel and Visser, ‘Pretoria radiocarbon dates’. See also Wendt, W. E., ‘Preliminary report on an archaeological research programme in South West Africa,’ Cimbebasia B, II (1972), 161.

53 Wendt, W. E., ‘Ein Rekonstruktionsversuch der Besiedlungsgeschichte des west-lichen Gross-Namalandes seit dem 15. Jahrhundert,’ J. S. W. Afr. Sci. Soc., XXIX (1975), 2356.

54 Vogel and Visser, ‘Pretoria radiocarbon dates,’ 44.

55 Freundlich, Schwabedissen and Wendt, ‘Köln radiocarbon measurements,’ 70.

56 PTA-1011, 1012, 1013, 1347, 1348, 1536: Vogel and Visser, ‘Pretoria radiocarbon dates,’ 56.

57 KN-1 .624, PTA-1202: Freundlich, Schwabedissen and Wendt, ‘Köln radiocarbon measurements,’ 74;Vogel and Visser, ‘Pretoria radiocarbon dates,’ 48.

58 KN-2142, KN-2143, PTA-1185, PTA-1186: Freundlich, Schwabedissen and Wendt, ‘Köln radiocarbon measurements,’ 76;Vogel and Visser, ‘Pretoria radiocarbon dates,’ 51.

59 KN-1 .631, KN-1 .632, KN-1.633, PTA-2662: Freundlich, Schwabedissen and Wendt, ‘Köln radiocarbon measurements,’ 77;Vogel and Visser, ‘Pretoria radiocarbon dates,’ 52.

60 PTA-1046, 1050, 1751: Vogel and Visser, ‘Pretoria radiocarbon dates,’ 49.

61 PTA-1927, 2650: Ibid, 50.

62 PTA-2075, 2077, 2082: Ibid, 55.

63 PTA-1185, KN-2142: Ibid, 51; Freundlich, Schwabedissen and Wendt, ‘Köln radiocarbon measurements,’ 76.

64 Vogel and Visser, ‘Pretoria radiocarbon dates’;Freundlich, Schwabedissen and Wendt, ‘Köln radiocarbon measurements’.

65 KN-1 .460, KN-1 .461. KN-1 .729, KN-1 .730, KN-1.731, KN-1.732: Freundlich, Schwabedissen and Wendt, ‘Köln radiocarbon measurements,’ 78.

66 Vogel and Visser, ‘Pretoria radiocarbon dates,’ 59.

67 Ibid, 58–9. Earlier work at Big Elephant Shelter has been reported in Clark, J. D. and Walton, J., ‘A Late Stone Age site on the Erongo Mountains, South West Africa,’ S. Afr. Archaeol. Bull., XXXI (1976), 146, and by Wadley, L., ‘Big Elephant Shelter and its role in the Holocene prehistory of central South West Africa,’ Cimbebasia B, III, i (1979), 275.

68 KN-1 .636, KN-1 .637, KN-1 .638, KN-1 .639, PTA-2681: Vogel and Visser, ‘Pretoria radiocarbon dates,’ 59;Freundlich, Schwabedissen and Wendt, ‘Köln radiocarbon measurements,’ 79–80.

69 PTA-1295: Vogel and Visser, ‘Pretoria radiocarbon dates,’ 61.

70 PTA-1546, 1547, 1550, 1773, 1776, 1777: Ibid, 61–2.

71 Bakker, E. M. van Zinderen, ‘Comparison,’ 390.

72 Ibid

73 Deacon, J., ‘Patterning in the radiocarbon dates’.

74 PTA-2250, 2422: Smith, A. B. and Rip, M. R., ‘An archaeological reconnaissance of the Doorn/Tanqua Karoo,’ S. Afr. Archaeol. Bull., XXXIII (1978), 118–33, and pers. comm.

75 Vogel, J. C., pers. comm.

76 PTA-3766, 3768, 3783: Kaplan, J., ‘Renbaan Cave: stone tools, settlement and subsistence’ (Honours dissertation, University of Cape Town, 1984).

77 Parkington, J., ‘Time and place: some observations on spatial and temporal patterning in the Later Stone Age sequence in southern Africa,’ S. Afr. Archaeol. Bull., XXXV (1980), 7383.

78 Andrews, W. R. H. and Hutchings, L., ‘Upwelling in the southern Benguela current,’ Prog. Oceanogr., IX (1980), 181.

79 Fluctuation in near coastal seeps is one explanation of the sedimentological sequence recently exposed at Spring Cave near the mouth of the Verloren Vlei. These sediments have been examined by N. Lancaster (pers. comm.).

80 Parkington, J., ‘Landscape and subsistence changes since the last glacial maximum along the western Cape coast,’ in Soffer, Olga (ed.), Regional Perspectives on the Pleistocene Prehistory of the Old World (1986, in press).

81 Deacon, J., The Late Stone Age of southernmost Africa (British Archaeological Reports International Series, 213) (Oxford, 1984), 1441.

82 Scheitzer, F. R. and Wilson, M. L., ‘Byneskranskop I. A late Quaternary living site in the southern Cape Province, South Africa,’ Ann. S. Afr. Mus. LXXXVIII, i (1982), 1203.

83 Louw, J. T., ‘Prehistory of the Matjes River rock shelter,’ Memoirs of the National Museum (Bloemfontein) I (1960), 1143.

84 Thackeray, J. F. and Feast, F. C., ‘A midden burial from Cape St Francis, eastern Cape Province,’ S. Afr. Archaeol. Bull., XXIX (1974), 92.

85 Singer, R. and Wymer, J., The Middle Stone Age of Klasies River Mouth in South Africa (Chicago, 1982).

86 Parkington, ‘Landscape and subsistence changes’.

87 There is considerable discussion in the literature as to whether Holocene features around the shores of southern Africa lying 2–3 metres above present sea-level result from a higher stand of the sea or an emergence of the land. The most general model is given by Clark, J. A., Farrell, W. E. and Peltier, W. R., ‘Global changes in post-glacial sea level: a numerical calculation,’ Quaternary Research, IX (1978), 265–87; and by Clark, J. A. and Lingle, C. S., ‘Predicted relative sea-level changes (18000 years BP to Present) caused by late-glacial retreat of the Antarctic ice sheet,’ Quaternary Research, XI (1979), 279–98.

88 Manhire, A. H., Parkington, J. E. and Robey, T. S., ‘Stone tools and sandveld settlement,’ in Hall, et al. (eds.), Frontiers, 111120.

89 Smith, A. B., ‘Prehistoric pastoralism in the Southwestern Cape, South Africa,’ World Archaeology, xv, i (1983), 7989;Smith, A. B., ‘Adaptive strategies of prehistoric pastoralism in the south-western Cape,’ in Hall, et al. (eds.), Frontiers, 131–42.

90 Robertshaw, P. T., ‘Coastal settlement, freshwater fishing and pastoralism in the later prehistory of the western Cape, South Africa’ (Ph.D. thesis, University of Cambridge, 1979).

91 PTA-3641, 3711, 3737, 3742, 3747, 3785, 3787, 3788: A. B. Smith, pers. comm.

92 Smith, A. B. and Klein, R., pers. comms.

93 Moll, E. J. and Jarman, M. L., ‘Is fynbos a heathland?,’ S. Afr. J. Sci., LXXX, viii (1984), 352–4.

94 E. Moll, pers. comm.

95 N. Penn, pers. comm.

96 T. Maggs, pers. comm.

97 Maggs, T., ‘The Iron Age south of the Zambezi,’ in Klein, R. G. (ed.), Southern African Prehistory and Palaeoenvironments (Rotterdam, 1984).

98 Exceptions are Maggs, T., ‘The Iron Age sequence south of the Vaal and Pongola Rivers: some historical implications,’ J. Afr. Hist., XXI, i (1980), 115;Hall, M., Settlement Patterns in the Iron Age of Zululand (British Archaeological Reports International Series, 119) (Oxford, 1981), 1191; and Jones, Peta, ‘Mobility and migration in traditional African farming and Iron Age models,’ in Hall, et al. (eds.), Frontiers, 289–96.

99 For examples of this approach see Phillipson, D. W., The Later Prehistory of Eastern and Southern Africa (London, 1977);Huffman, T. N., ‘African origins,’ S. Afr. J. Sci., LXXV (1979), 233–7.

100 For a critique of this assumption see Hall, M. and Morris, A., ‘Race and Iron Age human skeletal remains from southern Africa: an assessment,’ Social Dynamics IX, ii (1983), 2936.

101 PTA-2824, 2825. Cable, J. H. C., Economy and Technology in the Late Stone Age of Southern Natal (British Archaeological Reports International Series, 201) (Oxford, 1984), 1267.

102 PTA-2527, 2528: Robey, T., ‘Mpambanyoni: a Late Iron Age site on the Natal south coast,’ Ann. Natal Mus., XXIV, i (1980), 163.

103 Denbow and Wilmsen, ‘Iron Age pastoralist settlements’.

104 PTA-2017: Cronin, M., ‘Radiocarbon dates for the Early Iron Age in Transkei,’ S. Afr. J. Sci., LXXVII, i (1982), 38.

105 Voigt, E. and Bigalke, E. H., ‘The interdisciplinary aspect of a study of shellfish exploitation by indigenous coastal communities,’ S. Afr. Mus. Bull., x, vii (1973), 116.

106 Colson, E., ‘In good years and in bad: food strategies of self-reliant societies,’ J. Anthrop. Res., xxxv, i (1979), 1829.

107 PTA-1848, 2485, 2537: Hall, Settlement patterns, 1–191.

108 ST-8546, 8547, 8548: Morais, J., ‘Mozambican archaeology: past and present,’ Afr. Archaeol. Rev., ii (1984), 113–28.

109 Cable, ‘Economy and technology’.

110 PTA-3268: T. Maggs, pers. comm.

111 Acocks, J. P. H., ‘Veld types of South Africa,’ Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of South Africa, XL (1975), map I.

112 Aron Mazel is currently exploring the interaction between hunters and farmers in his Natal research.

113 Maggs, T., ‘Msuluzi Confluence: a seventh century Early Iron Age site on the Tugela River,’ Ann. Natal. Mus., XXIV, i (1980), 111–45.

114 Mazel, A., ‘Through the keyhole: a preliminary peep at the lithic composition of Later Stone Age sites in the central and upper Tugela River basin, Natal,’ in Hall, et al. (eds.), Frontiers, 182–93.

115 PTA-2971, 2973, 3247: Ibid, 185.

116 PTA-3242, 3243, 3245: Ibid, 186.

117 PTA-3269, 3275, 3276, 3443, 3455, 3460: Ibid, 187.

118 Maggs, ‘Dates’; Hall and Vogel, ‘Recent radiocarbon dates’.

119 Daniel, G., A Hundred and Fifty Years of Archaeology (London, 1975).

120 Leacock, E. and Lee, R., Politics and History in Band Societies (Cambridge, 1982).

121 Alexander, ‘Early frontiers’.

122 Giliomee, H., ‘Processes in development of the southern African frontier,’ in Lamar, H. and Thompson, L. (eds.), The Frontier in History (New Haven, 1981).

123 For example, the Okiek: Blackburn, R. H., ‘In the land of milk and honey; Okiek adaptations to their forests and neighbours,’ in Leacock and Lee, Politics and History, 283–305.

124 Alexander, ‘Early frontiers’.

125 Bettinger, R. L. and Baumhoff, M. A., ‘The numic spread: Great Basin cultures in competition,’ American Anthropology, XLVII, iii (1982), 485503.

126 See Blackburn, ‘In the land of milk and honey’;Hoffman, C. L., ‘Punan foragers in the trading networks of south-east Asia,’ in Schrire, C. (ed.), Past and Present in Hunter-gatherer Societies (New York, 1984).

127 We would like to thank Curtis Marean, ‘T’ Farrar, Rob Blumenshine, Preston Miracle and Charles McNutt, all of Berkeley, and Royden Yates, Tony Manhire and Alyson Herlihy in Cape Town.

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