Cultural diversity during the last 2000 years in southern Africa

Thomas Huffman


During the Iron Age (AD 200-1820), Bantu-speaking people dominatedthe southern African landscape. They were all mixed-farmers, cultivatingdomestic crops and herding large and small stock. For the Early Iron Age(AD400-900), different ceramic styles denote different group identities,but settlement organization shows that these people shared the sameworldview. Ceramic style also documents interaction between differentgroups. In the Middle Iron Age (AD 900-1300), interaction with Muslimtraders in the Limpopo Valley created surplus trade wealth that togetherwith local agriculture led to institutionalized social classes and sacredleadership. In the sixteenth century, Portuguese traders began to colonizeparts of southern Africa, describing for the first time the famousZimbabwe culture. In addition to Muslim and Portuguese foreigners,Bantu people interacted with local Khoekhoe pastoralists and San hunterforagers.At first, San may have been entrepreneurs embedded in regionalnetworks, trading desirable items such as salt and skins to Bantuvillagers. Later, by the sixteenth century, San appear to have become serfsmarginalized from ‘civilized’ society. Khoe, on the other hand, maintaineda high status from the beginning, presumably because they were cattlepastoralists. Linguistic elements, such as clicks, document intermarriagebetween Khoe, San and Nguni-speaking peoples that parallel geneticdata.

Texto completo


  • No hay Refbacks actualmente.

Creative Commons License
Los trabajos publicados en esta revista están bajo la licencia Creative Commons de Atribución/No comercial/Misma licencia 4.0 International.

Revista del Centro de Estudios sobre la Diversidad Cultural, Facultad de Humanidades y Artes, Universidad Nacional de Rosario. ISSN en línea 2314-0542. Centro de Estudios sobre Diversidad Cultural. Entre Ríos 758, Rosario, Argentina. (C.P.2000).