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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. 1 (2) 2003

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T. N. Huffman & M. Murimbika

Shona ethnography and Iron Age burials

Journal of African Archaeology, Vol. 1 (2), 2003, pages 237-246, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-100012

Abstract
Although Shona society has undergone much change, it is still a valid source of hypotheses about Iron Age burials. Death is part of a cycle that underpins the separate treatment of infants, children, young adults and adults. Everyone except chiefs should lie in a sleeping posture, and their location in the settlement depends on age, status and kinship. Adults should point westerly and lie on their left or right side depending on their status and gender. Everyone must be buried, including strangers and social outcasts, and anomalies to the normal pattern also follow cultural rules. The Shona rules have multiple points of correspondence with burials at Kgaswe and other Iron Age sites in southern Africa. Shona ethnography fits the archaeological data well because it is part of a larger nexus of Eastern Bantu culture: in contrast, Western Bantu ethnography does not fit the archaeology. Successful interpretations such as this involve the recursive interplay between ethnographic and archaeological data.

Résumé
Bien que les groupes ethniques Shona aient connu des mutations ces dernières années, leurs pratiques funéraires demeurent des références valables pour l.interprétation des sépultures de l.Age du Fer. La mort est considérée comme faisant partie d'un cycle qui détermine le traitement distinct des enfants, des jeunes adultes et des adultes. Tous les morts (à l'exception des chefs) doivent être déposés en position de sommeil et la localisation de leur tombe dépend de leur âge, de leur statut social et de leur sexe. Les corps des adultes sont orientés vers l.ouest et reposent sur le côté gauche ou droit selon le sexe et le statut social. Tout le monde, y compris les étrangers et les parias, doit être enseveli et les exceptions obéissent elles aussi à des règles traditionnelles. Les pratiques Shonas présentent plusieurs points communs avec les sépultures de Kgaswe et d.autres sites de l'.Age du Fer en Afrique du Sud. Si les données ethnographiques Shonas correspondent si bien aux données archéologiques c'est parce que ces groupes font partie d'un plus large ensemble: la culture des Bantous Orientaux. En revanche, les données ethnographiques issues des Bantous Occidentaux ne présentent aucun point de ressemblance avec les données archéologiques. Afin de bâtir des hypothèses interprétatives valables nous nous servons conjointement des données ethnographiques et archéologiques.




Keywords: burial patterns, central cattle pattern, Iron Age, Shona cosmology, Southern Africa


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Editors:
Sonja Magnavita, Peter Breunig, Sam Nixon

Book Reviews Editor:
Jonathan R. Walz, USA

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Graham Connah, Australia
Shadreck Chirikure, South Africa
A. Catherine D'Andrea, Canada
Manfred K.H. Eggert, Germany
Elena Garcea, Italy
Diane Gifford-Gonzalez, USA
Timothy Insoll, UK
Tom Huffman, South Africa
Eric Huysecom, Switzerland
David Killick, USA
Savino di Lernia, Italy
Alexandre Livingstone Smith, Belgium
Scott MacEachern, USA
David Mattingly, UK
Susan Keech McIntosh, USA
David W. Phillipson, UK
Gilbert Pwiti, Zimbabwe
Peter Robertshaw, USA
Robert Vernet, France
Lyn Wadley, South Africa

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Gaby Franke, Germany
Annabelle Gallin, France
Richard Byer, Germany

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Anna Rybar, Germany
Carlos Magnavita, Germany


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