chapter  18
30 Pages

Stolen Places: Archaeology and the Politics of Identity in the Later Prehistory of the Kalahari

WithJames Denbow

This chapter addresses the issues from the context of archaeological excavations at the site of Bosutswe, situated on the eastern fringe of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana. It examines archaeological data pertinent to the ways in which identities have been fashioned and transformed in one part of the Kalahari—the eastern Kalahari and the southern Makgadikgadi pans—but the approach and conclusions are of wider applicability. Economic and cultural links between the Sowa Pan sites and the political economy of eastern Botswana can be made through the site of Bosutswe, a large settlement that was almost continuously occupied from the seventh to the eighteenth centuries. Throughout the long occupation of Bosutswe, for instance, the structure of pastoralism changed as herds expanded and were ultimately displaced from the site. The Zimbabwe-age deposits at Bosutswe are distinctive because they contain no elaborately decorated elite ceramics, or evidence for prestige stone walling.