African Archaeological Review

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 139–175 | Cite as

Congo to Kalahari: data and hypotheses about the political economy of the western stream of the Early Iron Age

  • James Denbow


This paper provides a preliminary account of archaeological research on sites of early pottery-using people in the coastal region of the Congo Republic. The results obtained are compared with observations from Botswana and used to amplify archaeological and lingustic data relevant to the transformations in social and productive forces that occurred across the western part of sub-equatorial Africa during the period when food production, metallurgy and long-distance trade were established. Particular attention is paid to evidence for developing economic and social relations between indigenous foragers and immigrant food producers.


Iron Political Economy Food Producer Social Relation Coastal Region 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Cet article offre les premiers résultats de recherches sur des sites qui emontent du début de l'utilisation de la potiere par des populations habitant la zone côtière de la République du Congo. Les résultats obtenus sont comparés avec des découvertes au Botswana pour developer les données archéologiques et linguistiques se rapportant à la transformation des forces sociales et productives qui se produisent à travers la partie occidentale de l'Afrique subéquatoriale durant la période où apparutent la production de nourrieture, la métallurgie et le commerce à longue distance. L'article s'attache plus particulièrement aux témoins du dévelopment de relations économiques et socials entre les indigènes, pěcheurs/chasseurs, et les populations immigrantes de producteurs de nourriture.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bailey, R. and Devore, I. 1989. Research on the Efe and Lese populations of the Ituri forest, Zaïe.A.J.P.A. 78:459–71.Google Scholar
  2. Beiley, al. 1989. Hunting and gathering in the tropical forest: is it possible?American Anthropologist 91:59–82.Google Scholar
  3. Bastin, Y., Coupez, A. and de Halleux, B. 1983. Classification lexicostatistique des langues bantoues.Bulletin de l'Académie Royale des Sciences d'Outre-Mer 27:173–99.Google Scholar
  4. Clist, B. 1986. Le Néolithique en Afrique Centrale: état de la question et perspective d'avenir.L'A. 90:217–32.Google Scholar
  5. Clist, B. 1988. Un nouvel ensemble néolithique en Afrique Centrale: le groupe d'Okala au Gabon.Nsi 3:43–51.Google Scholar
  6. Clist, B., Oslisly, R. and Peyrot, B. 1986. La métallurgie ancienne du fer au Gabon: premiers éléments de syntheses.Muntu 4–5:47–55.Google Scholar
  7. Denbow, J. 1979.Cenchrus ciliaris: an ecological indicator of Iron Age middens using aerial photography in eastern Botswana.S.A.J.S. 76:405–8.Google Scholar
  8. Denbow, J. 1981. Broadhurst: a 14th century A.D. expression of the Early Iron Age in southeastern Botswana.S.A.A.B. 36:66–74.Google Scholar
  9. Denbow, J. 1982. The Toutswe Tradition: a study in socio-economic change. InSettlement in Botswana (eds. R. Hitchock and M. Smith): pp. 73–86. Johannesburg: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  10. Denbow, J. 1983.Iron Age Economics: herding, wealth and politics along the fringes of the Kalhari during the Early Iron Age. Ph.D. thesis, Indiana University, Bloomington.Google Scholar
  11. Denbow, J. 1984a. Prehistoric herders and foragers of the Kalahari: the evidence for 1500 years of interaction. InPast and Present in Hunter Gatherer Studies (ed. C. Schrire): pp. 175–93. Orlando: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  12. Denbow, J. 1984b. Cows and Kings: a spatial and economic analysis of a hierarchical Early Iron Age sttlement system in eastern Botswana. InFrontiers: Southern African Archaeology Today (eds. M. Hallet al.): pp. 24–39. Oxford: BAR.Google Scholar
  13. Denbow, J. 1986. A new look at the later prehistory of the Kalahari.J.A.H. 27:3–29.Google Scholar
  14. Denbow, J. 1989. The archaeology of the Congo coast. Report prepared for Conoco Inc., Houston.Google Scholar
  15. Denbow, J. and Campbell, A. 1986. The early stages of food production in southern Africa and some potential linguistic correlations.Sprache und Geschichite in Afrika 7, 1:83–103.Google Scholar
  16. Denbow, J., Manima-Moubouha, A. and Sanviti, N. 1988. Archaeological excavations along the Loango Coast, Cnogo.Nsi 3:37–42.Google Scholar
  17. Denbow, J. and Wilmsen, E. 1983. Iron Age `pastoralist settlements in Botswana.S.A.J.S. 79:405–8.Google Scholar
  18. Denbow, J. and Wilmsen, E. 1986. the advent and course of pastoralism in the Kalahari.Science 234:1509–15.Google Scholar
  19. Digombe, L., Schmidt, P., Mouleingui-Boukosso, V., Mombo, J. and Locko, M. 1988. The development of an Early Iron Age prehistory in Gabon.C.A. 29:179–84.Google Scholar
  20. Eggert, M. 1984. Imbonga und Lingonda: zur fruhesten Besiedlung des zentralafrikanischen Regenwaldes.Beitrage zur Allgemeinen und Vergleichenden Archaologie 6:247–88.Google Scholar
  21. Ehret, C. 1967. Cattle-keeping and milking in eastern and southern African history: the linguistic evidence.J.A.H. 8:1–17.Google Scholar
  22. Ehret, C. 1968. Sheep and Central Sudanic peoples in southern Africa.J.A.H. 9:213–21.Google Scholar
  23. Ehret, C. 1982. The first spread of food production to southern Africa. InThe Archaeological and Linguistic Reconstruction of African History (eds C. Ehret and M. Posnansky): pp. 158–81. Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  24. Elphick, R. 1977.Kraal and Castle. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Everdosa, C. 1980.Arquelogia Angolana. Luanda: Ministerio da Educacao.Google Scholar
  26. Evers, T. 1977. Recent progress in studies of the Early Iron Age in the eastern Transvaal, South Africa.S.A.J.S. 73:78–81.Google Scholar
  27. Evers, T. 1981. The Iron Age in the Eastern Transvaal, South Africa. InGuide to Archaeological sites in the Northern and Eastern Transvaal (ed. E. Voigt): pp. 65–109. Pretoria: Transvaal Museum.Google Scholar
  28. Galaty, J. 1986. East African hunters and pastoralists in a regional perspective: an ethnoanthropological approach.Sprache und Geschichte in Afrika 7, 1:105–32.Google Scholar
  29. Headland, T. and Reid, L. 1989. Huntergatherers and their neighbors from prehistory to the present.C.A. 30:43–66.Google Scholar
  30. Heine, B. 1973. Zur genetischen Gliederung der Bantu-Sprachen.Afrika und Ubersee 56:164–85.Google Scholar
  31. Heine, B., Hoff, H., and Vossen, R. 1977. Neuere Ergebnisse zur Territorialgeschischte der Bantu. InZur Sprach-gescheschichte und Ethnohistorie in Afrika (eds W. Mohlig, R. Rottland and B. Heine): pp. 57–72. Berlin: Reimer.Google Scholar
  32. Henrici, A. 1973. Numerical classification of Bantu languages.African Language Studies 14:82–104.Google Scholar
  33. Herbert, E. 1984.Red Gold of Africa: copper in pre-colonial history and culture. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
  34. Huffman, T. 1980. African origins.S.A.J.S. 75:233–7.Google Scholar
  35. Huffman, T. 1982. Archaeology and ethnohistory of the African Iron Age.A.R.A. 11:133–50.Google Scholar
  36. Huffman, T. 1989. Ceramics, settlements and late Iron Age migrations.A.A.R. 7:155–82.Google Scholar
  37. Johnson, G. 1987. The changing organization of Uruk administration on the Susiana Plain. InArchaeological Perspectives on Western Iran: from prehistory to the Islamic conquest (ed. F. Hole): pp. 107–40. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.Google Scholar
  38. Kinahan, J. 1984. On the relative homogeneity of a short Holocene sequence of stone-tool assemblages from the central Namib Desert.S.A.J.S. 80:273–76.Google Scholar
  39. Klein, R. 1984. The prehistory of stone age herders in South Africa. InFrom Hunters to Farmers: the causes and consequences of food production in Africa (eds J. D. Clark and S. Brandt): pp. 281–89. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  40. Köhler, O. 1986. Allgemeine und sprachliche Bemerkungen zum Feldbau nach oraltexten der Kxoe-Buschleute.Sprache und Geschichte in Afrika 7, 1:205–72.Google Scholar
  41. Lee, R. 1979.The !Kung San: men, women, and work in a foraging society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Maggs, T. and Michael, M. 1976. Ntshekane: an Early Iron Age site in the Tugela Basin, Natal.Annals of the Natal Museum 22:705–40.Google Scholar
  43. Maggs, T. 1984. The Iron Age south of the Zambezi. InSouthern African Prehistory and Paleoenvironments (ed. R. Klein): pp. 329–60. Rotterdam: A. A. Balkema.Google Scholar
  44. Marchbanks, M. 1989. Organic residue analysis: food residues in the Congo, a preliminary analysis. Unpublished paper, of file with the author.Google Scholar
  45. de Maret, P. 1986. The Ngovo Group: an industry with polished stone tools and pottery in lower Zaïre.A.A.R. 4:103–33.Google Scholar
  46. Martin, P. 1972.The external trade of the Loango Coast. 1576–1870. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  47. Phillipson, D. 1985.African Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Robbins, L. in press. The Depression Site: a stone age sequence in the northwest Kalahari Desert, Botswana.Botswana Notes and Records.Google Scholar
  49. Sandelowsky, B., van Rooyen, J., and Vogel, J. 1979. Early evidence for herders in the Namib.S.A.A.B. 34:15–32.Google Scholar
  50. Smith, C. 1976. Exchange systems and the spatial distribution of elites: the organization of stratification in agrarian societies. InRegional Analysis II: Social Systems (ed. C. Smith): pp. 309–74. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  51. Turner, G. 1987a. Early Iron Age herders in northwestern Botswana: the faunal evidence.Botswana Notes and Records 19:7–23.Google Scholar
  52. Turner, G. 1987b. Herders and hunters of the Okavango Delta, Northern Botswana.Botswana Notes and Records 19:25–40.Google Scholar
  53. Vansina, J. 1984. Western Bantu expansion.J.A.H. 25:129–45.Google Scholar
  54. Vansina, J. 1986. Do Pygmies have a history?Sprache und Geschichte in Afrika, 1:431–46.Google Scholar
  55. Voigt, E. 1984.Mapungubwe: an archaeozoological interpretation of an Iron Age community. Pretoria: Transvaal Museum.Google Scholar
  56. Vossen, R. 1984. Studying the linguistic and ethno-history of the Khoe-speaking (central Khoisan) peoples of Botswana: research in progress.Botswana Notes and Records 16:19–36.Google Scholar
  57. Walker, N. 1983. The significance of an early date for pottery and sheep in Zimbabwe.S.A.A.B. 38:88–92.Google Scholar
  58. Westphal, E. 1979. Languages of southern Africa. InPerspectives on the southern African Past: pp. 37–68. Cape Town: Centre for African Studies.Google Scholar
  59. Wilmsen, E. 1978. Prehistoric and historic antecedents of an Ngamiland community.Botswana Notes and Records 10:5–18.Google Scholar
  60. Wilmsen, E. 1983. The ecology of illusion: anthropological foraging in the Kalahari.Reviews in Anthropology 10:9–20.Google Scholar
  61. Wilmsen, E. 1989.Land filled with flies: a political economy of the Kalahari. Chicago: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Cambridge University Press 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Denbow

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations