Origin Of Farming In South Africa People And Pottery Styles

Archaeologists can trace the movement of early farmers across the continent using pottery styles. This is feasible for any context where ceramic vessels were made for local use and not traded on a large scale. In such cases, ceramic styles (defined in terms of vessel shape and decoration) correspond with linguistic entities, and makers of related ceramic styles would have spoken related languages. This is because language is the primary means of learning about the world and, in small-scale societies, pottery is learnt at the household or homestead level: mothers teach their daughters.

It is important to note that units of pottery style rarely corresponded with past socio-political units; in almost all cases, style units would have comprised several, or even many, political units. It is not known precisely what languages the early farmers spoke, but studies of ceramic style sequences (or histories) show that these belonged to a family of languages that linguists refer to as Eastern Bantu. Today, speakers of Eastern Bantu languages live in East and southern Africa. Different pottery styles are named after the site at which they were first identified. Conventionally, this name is also used for the people who made the style. Thus Zhizo people made pottery of the Zhizo style.

Comments are closed.