Diving into the collections: Analysing two excavated Sotho-Tswana compounds in the Suikerbosrand, Gauteng Province

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Christopher Hodgson
Karim Sadr https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9290-4431


Late Iron Age, stone-walled structures, Batswana settlement organisation, spatial analysis, ethnographic analogy


In this article, we set out to publish the results of extensive excavations conducted in the late 1980s and early 1990s by staff and students of the Archaeology Department, University of the Witwatersrand, at two Late Iron Age stone-walled compounds in the western foothills of the Suikerbosrand massif, near Johannesburg. While these two compounds, Sun Shadow and Boschoek, have been extensively cited in the literature, their data have never been published. Here, we analyse the distribution of their collected artefacts, in conjunction with their field maps, to better understand the spatial organisation of these two Molokwane-style stone-walled compounds. We were also interested to assess the merits of revisiting under-analysed archaeological materials housed in the University of the Witwatersrand’s collections. The results revealed frustrating gaps and shortcomings in the collections, but also shed new light on the social organisation of these settlements. Overall, we feel that the exercise was worthwhile and we encourage similar such studies in the future, allowing researchers to explore the scientific potential of the masses of buried treasure within the university’s collections.


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