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Welcome to African Archaeology!

The Journal of African Archaeology is an international peer-reviewed periodical appearing half-yearly since 2003. It publishes original papers addressing recent research and developments in African archaeology and related disciplines. The journal's main purpose is to provide scholars and students with a new pan-African forum for discussing relevant topics on the cultural dynamics of past African societies.

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Vol. 6 (2) 2008

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S. Challis, P. Mitchell & J. Orton

Fishing in the rain: control of rain-making and aquatic resources at a previously undescribed rock art site in Highland Lesotho

Journal of African Archaeology, Volume 6 (2), 2008, pages 203-218, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-10111

Abstract
This paper describes a previously unrecorded rock art site in the highlands of Lesotho, southern Africa. It then explores the significance of the paintings at this site, which adds to the still small number of locations in the wider Maloti-Drakensberg region at which fishing scenes are depicted. Unusually, paintings of fish at this site are closely associated with that of a rain-animal and with other images, including dying eland and clapping and dancing human figures, that have clear shamanistic references. Drawing also on the local excavated archaeological record, we argue that these images may collectively refer to the power of Bushman shamans to harness and make rain, using that power to produce socially desirable benefits, including perhaps opportunities for group aggregation around seasonally restricted spawning runs of fish.

Résumé
Cet article décrit des peintures rupestres attribuées aux Bochimans, découvertes dans un site jusque-là inédit et situé dans les Montagnes du Lesotho en Afrique méridionale. Il se poursuit par l'examen de la signification de ces peintures qui augmentent le nombre encore restreint de sites de la région des Montagnes Maloti-Drakensberg où sont représentés des poissons. La caractéristique de ce gisement est l'association de représentations des poissons, de celle d'un « animal de la pluie » et d'autres images (des élands du Cap agonisants, des personnes qui applaudissent et qui dansent) qui font clairement référence à des chamanes. En nous basant également sur les données issues des fouilles archéologiques locales, nous proposons que ces images se rapportent toutes au pouvoir des chamanes bochimans de contrôler et de faire tomber la pluie et d'utiliser ce pouvoir pour la création de bénéfices sociaux désirables. Ces bénéfices prenaient probablement la forme d'occasions de réunion pour les groupes de chasseurs-cueilleurs, organisées autour de l'exploitation des courtes saisons de fraie des poissons.




Keywords: Bushman rock art, fishing, Lesotho, Maloti-Drakensberg region, rainmaking, shamanism


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