chapter  6
17 Pages

Ntshekane and the Central Cattle Pattern

Reconstructing settlement history
WithThomas N. Huffman, Gavin Whitelaw

Iron Age settlement organizations, such as the Street Pattern, Central Cattle Pattern, and Zimbabwe Pattern, have been in the literature for three decades. Nevertheless, some archaeologists question their research value. To demonstrate the value of the Central Cattle Pattern, we present a case study from the Early Iron Age site of Ntshekane in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Ntshekane is a heavily eroded site where numerous storage pits, middens, burials, and burnt structures lay exposed. Previous research was unable to make sense of their spatial distribution. In the Central Cattle Pattern, however, these types of features are typically located in specific areas of a homestead: deep storage pits in the central cattle kraal; shallow pits around the grainbins at the back; and domestic middens among the grainbins of individual families. By applying the spatial model to these features, it is possible to recognize several stratified homesteads belonging to the Msuluzi, Ndondondwane, and Ntshekane phases.