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Precolonial agricultural terracing in Bokoni, South Africa: Typology and an exploratory excavation
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Human Geography.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3322-7848
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
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2016 (English)In: Journal of African Archaeology, ISSN 1612-1651, E-ISSN 2191-5784, Vol. 14, no 1, 33-53 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Earlier work on the terraced settlements of the Bokoni area (16th to 19th century, Mpumalanga province, South Africa) focussed on the homesteads, their contents, layout and chronology. This paper suggests a terminology and typology of agrarian structures in Bokoni in order to improve comparative approaches in Africa and beyond. The typology and an excavation of the terracing have made possible preliminary conclusions relevant for the further analysis of the terracing and stone-walling in Bokoni. The terracing developed incrementally, whereby cultivation, stone-clearing and terracing were intermixed processes. This is supported both by the organic content in a section of a terrace and by a phytolith analysis. The phytolith analysis furthermore indicated that maize was cultivated on the terraces, but this should be seen as a pilot study only, and presence of maize in Bokoni must be tested with other archaeobotanical methods.

Abstract [fr]

De précédentes recherches sur les paysages de terrassesde la région Bokoni (16e-19e siècles dans la province de Mpumalanga, Afrique du Sud) se sont concentrées surles fermes, leur organisation spatiale et leur chronologie. Nous proposons ici une terminologie et une typologiedes éléments agraires de Bokoni afin d’améliorer les approches comparatives en Afrique et au-delà. La mise en oeuvre de cette typologie et la fouille d´une terrasse ont permis de formuler de premières conclusions pertinentes pour la suite des analyses sur le terrassement et la construction de murs de pierre à Bokoni. Le terrassement a été développé progressivement, de telle sorte que la préparation du sol, l´épierrement et le terrassement ont été des processus entremêlés. Nous fondons cette conclusion à la fois sur l’analyse du contenu organique dans une section d’un eterrasse et sur l’analyse des phytolithes. Cette dernière a en outre indiqué que le maïs a été cultivé sur les terrasses, ce qui doit être considéré seulement comme une conclusion préliminaire, la présence de maïs à Bokoni devant être testée avec des autres méthodes archéobotaniques.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 14, no 1, 33-53 p.
Keyword [en]
terracing, farming, landesque capital, South Africa, phytoliths, maize
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Human Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-126245DOI: 10.3213/2191-5784-10281ISI: 000378526000003OAI: diva2:898073
Exploring precolonial agriculture and intensification: the case of Bokoni, South Africa (Swedish Research Links)
Swedish Research Council, 2009-6397
Available from: 2016-01-27 Created: 2016-01-27 Last updated: 2016-08-08Bibliographically approved

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Widgren, MatsPlikk, AnnaRisberg, JanWesterberg, Lars-Ove
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