African Archaeological Review

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 159–170 | Cite as

Iron Age farmers in southwestern Zambia: some aspects of spatial organization

  • Joseph O. Vogel


Examination of the spatial organization of prehistoric farming hamlets in southwestern Zambia permits certain suggestions about the structure of prehistoric economic and social practice. Slash-and-burn agriculture facilitated the movement of farmers into favoured microenvironments. Its extensive land requirements regulated population growth and encouraged territorial expansion. After the ninth century AD, a cyclical use of agricultural opportunities was instituted. Through this time, social constraints concentrated the dispersed population within single microenvironments. Subsequent adaptation to the simultaneous use of diverse microenvironments was supported by the expansion of herding activities and the role of cattle in maintaining socio-political prestige.


Social Practice Spatial Organization Social Constraint Ninth Century Subsequent Adaptation 
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L'étude de l'organisation spatiale des hameaux agricoles préhistoriques du Sud-Ouest de la Zambie nous permet d'avancer certaines suggestions au sujet de la structure des pratiques économiques et sociales pendant la préhistoire. La culture sur brûlis de forêt a facilité la déplacement des agriculteurs vers des microenvironnements Préférés—et comme ces défrichements utilisaient beaucoup de terrain, ils ont réglé la croissance démographique, et ont encouragé l'expansion territoriale. Après le neuvième siècle après J.C., une utilisation cyclique des possibilités agricoles s'est établie. Pendant cette période des contraintes sociales ont concentré la population dispersée dans des microenvironnements particuliers. L'adaptation plus tard à l'utilisation simultanée de microenvironnements divers était soutenue par l'expansion de l'élevage et par le rôle du bétail dans le maintien du prestige socio-politique.


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© Cambridge University Press 1987

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  • Joseph O. Vogel

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