Changing places, spaces and identity in the Shashe Limpopo region of Limpopo Province, South Africa

While the Iron Age sequence of the Shashe-Limpopo region of Limpopo Province has been the subject of much research in the past, little is known about the huntergatherer sequence of the area. I begin to address this lack through the description of three new hunter-gatherer sites: Tshisiku Shelter, Balerno Main Shelter and Balerno Shelter 2. I examine how hunter-gatherer spaces, places and identity changed with the movement of different groups of farmers (including Zhizo, K2 and Mapungubwe period farmers) into the Shashe-Limpopo region over the last 2000 years. I also investigate how hunter-gatherer / farmer proximity impacted on interaction, and what social structures, boundaries, and constructed identities underlie interaction in the region. The pre-contact and contact periods are compared in order to determine whether changes in the hunter-gatherer sequence were due to the arrival, and continued presence, of farmers. Ethnographic and archaeological interaction case studies are used to construct a model of interaction for the Shashe-Limpopo. Based on data from Tshisiku Shelter, Balerno Main Shelter, Balerno Shelters 2 and 3, and Little Muck Shelter, a new sequence is proposed for hunter-gatherer occupation in the Shashe-Limpopo region: · An early pre-contact phase (11 120 – 10 890 BC; 6000 – 1220 BC) · A late pre-contact phase (1220 BC - AD 100) · An early contact phase (AD 100 – AD 900) · A late contact phase divided into two periods: - The Zhizo period (AD 900 – AD 1000 / 1200) - The K2 / Mapungubwe period (AD 1000 – AD 1300) Finally, a late second millennium phase of Late Iron Age farmer utilisation of hunter- gatherer sites occurs in the recent past (AD 1600 – AD 1900). iv My research suggests that: · A hunter-gatherer presence occurs significantly earlier in the region than initially hypothesised. · Differences in farmer social structure and identity play a role in how farmers interact with hunter-gatherers, and vice versa. · Finally, due to the differences between farmer groups and decreasing space on the landscape, a range of hunter-gatherer reactions to the presence of farmers occurred throughout the last two millennia in the Shashe-Limpopo region.
Faculty of Science School of Geography,Archaeolgy and Enviromental Studies 9408209v
Hunter-gatherer, Place, Space, Identity, Contact