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Intensification in Context: Archaeological Approaches to Precolonial Field Systems in Eastern and Southern Africa

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Publication details

JournalAfrican studies
DatePublished - 2010
Issue number2
Number of pages24
Pages (from-to)255-278
Original languageEnglish


The extensive stonewalled sites dating to the late second millennium AD from Mpumalanga in South Africa have prompted discussions of similar questions to those posed for analogous sites in eastern Africa and for the abandoned agronomy at Nyanga, Zimbabwe. These questions range from historical and archaeological enquiries into the ethnic/linguistic origin of the earliest inhabitants, to attempts to reconstruct site-specific political, economic, and environmental histories through archaeological investigations. Drawing primarily on the evidence from previous excavations at Nyanga, Zimbabwe, and at Engaruka, Tanzania, this article argues for the central importance of establishing inter- and intra-site chronologies to many if not all of these questions. Moreover, given that previous investigations of abandoned stonewalled terraces in eastern and southern Africa demonstrate marked differences in their form and function, it will further be argued that targeted excavation of these features is required at Bokoni sites.

Bibliographical note

Special issue History and Archaeology in Conversation – South Africa meets East Africa Workshop edited by P. Delius and A. Schoeman

    Research areas

  • intensive agriculture, archaeology, Engaruka, Nyanga, Mpumalanga, Bokoni, IRRIGATION, TANZANIA, MANAGEMENT, ZIMBABWE, ENGARUKA, BOSERUP, MEXICO, LABOR

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