Advertisement

African Archaeological Review

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 105–131 | Cite as

Archaeological survey, ceramic analysis, and state formation in western Uganda

  • Peter Robertshaw
Article

Abstract

Early archaeological research on the Iron Age of Uganda focused upon earthworks, such as Bigo, with the purpose of validating historians’ interpretations of oral traditions. Recent research has continued the emphasis upon large sites but with archaeological interpretation given precedence over historical reconstructions. This paper discusses archaeological surveys undertaken in western Uganda in 1991 with the aim of examining Iron Age settlement patterns from a regional perspective, in which the large sites form only one element. Pottery analyses permit the establishment of a tentative chronology, which in combination with data on site sizes facilitates a new perspective on state formation in the region. The proposed model of the development of social complexity is compatible with revisionist interpretations of the historical evidence. Together, they suggest that the Nyoro state emerged after several centuries characterised by competing and often unstable small polities or chiefdoms.

Keywords

State Formation Settlement Pattern Archaeological Research Oral Tradition Social Complexity 
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.

Résumé

Les premières études archéologiques sur l'Age de fer en Ouganda se sont concentrées sur les fortifications en terre, comme Bigo, l'objectif étant de valider les interprétations de traditions orales par les historiens. Les recherches récentes ont continué à mettre l'accent sur les sites les plus étendus, mais les interprétations archéologiques passent avant les reconstructions historiques. Cet article discute les études archéologiques entreprises en Ouganda occidental en 1991, l'objectif étant d'étudier les schémas de peuplement de l'Age de fer selon une perspective régionale, selon laquelle les sites étendus ne constituaient qu'un des éléments. L'analyse de la poterie permet d'établir une tentative de chronologie qui, avec les données sur les dimensions des sites, facilite l'élaboration d'une nouvelle perspective sur la formation de l'Etat dans cette région. Le modèle proposé de développement de la complexité sociale est compatible avec des interprétations révisionnistes des faits historiques. Ensemble, ils suggèrent que l'Etat de Nyoro est apparu au bout de plusieurs siècles, caractérisés par des petits régimes politiques ou chefferies, souvent instables et se faisant concurrence.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Beattie, J. 1960.Bunyoro: an African kingdom. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  2. Beattie, J. 1971.The Nyoro State. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  3. Berger, I. 1980. Deities, dynasties and oral tradition: the history and legend of the Abacwezi. InThe African Past Speaks (ed. J. C. Miller): pp. 61–81. Folkestone: Dawson.Google Scholar
  4. Berger, I. 1981.Religion and Resistance. Tervuren: Musée royal de l'Afrique Centrale.Google Scholar
  5. Buchanan, C. A. 1974.The Kitara Complex: the historical tradition of Western Uganda to the sixteenth century. Ph.D. thesis, Indiana University.Google Scholar
  6. Connah, G. 1989. Kibiro revisited: an archaeological reconnaissance in Southwestern Uganda.N.A. 32:46–54.Google Scholar
  7. Connah, G. 1991. The salt of Bunyoro: seeking the origins of an African kingdom.Antiquity 65:479–94.Google Scholar
  8. Desmedt, C. 1991. Poteries anciennes décorées à la roulette dans la Région des Grands Lacs.A.A.R. 9:161–96.Google Scholar
  9. Earle, T. K. 1987. Chiefdoms in archaeological and ethnohistorical perspective.A.R.A. 16:279–308.Google Scholar
  10. Earle, T. K. (ed.) 1991.Chiefdoms: power, economy, and ideology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Eggert, M. K. H. 1983. Remarks on exploring archaeologically unknown rain forest territory: the case of Central Africa.Beitrage zur Allgemeinen und Vergleichenden Archaologie 5:283–322.Google Scholar
  12. Hiernaux, J. and Maquet, E. 1968.L'Age du Fer à Kibiro (Uganda). Tervuren: Musée royal de l'Afrique Centrale.Google Scholar
  13. Kopytoff, I. (ed.) 1987.The African Frontier. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  14. K. W. [Tito Winyi] 1935. The kings of Bunyoro-Kitara.U.J. 3:155–60.Google Scholar
  15. Lanning, E. C. 1953. Ancient earthworks in western Uganda.U.J. 17:51–62.Google Scholar
  16. Lanning, E. C. 1954a. Ancient earthworks in western Uganda: correction and addition.U.J. 18:78.Google Scholar
  17. Lanning, E. C. 1954b. Masaka Hill — an ancient centre of worship.U.J. 18:24–30.Google Scholar
  18. Lanning, E. C. 1958. Shafts in Buganda and Toro.U.J. 22:188–89.Google Scholar
  19. Lanning, E. C. 1960. The earthworks at Kibengo, Mubende District.U.J. 24:183–96.Google Scholar
  20. Lanning, E. C. 1962. Caves and rock shelters of western Uganda.U.J. 26:183–93.Google Scholar
  21. Lanning, E. C. 1966. Excavations at Mubende Hill.U.J. 30:153–63.Google Scholar
  22. Lanning, E. C. 1970. Ntusi: An ancient capital site in western Uganda.Azania 5:39–54.Google Scholar
  23. Nelson, C. M. 1971. Standardized site enumeration system for the continent of Africa.Bulletin of the Commission of Nomenclature and Terminology 4:6–12. (Berkeley: Pan-African Congress on Prehistory and the Study of the Quaternary).Google Scholar
  24. Nyakatura, J. 1973.Anatomy of an African Kingdom (ed. G. N. Uzoigwe). Garden City, New York: Anchor Press-Doubleday.Google Scholar
  25. Oliver, R. 1953. A question about the Bacwezi.U.J. 17:135–37.Google Scholar
  26. Oliver, R. 1977. The East African interior. InThe Cambridge History of Africa III: c. 1050–1600 (ed. R. Oliver): pp. 621–69. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Plog, S., Plog, F. and Wait, W. 1978. Decision making in modern surveys. InAdvances in Archaeological Method and Theory (ed. M. B. Schiffer): vol. 1, pp. 383–421. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  28. Posnansky, M. 1966. Kingship, archaeology and historical myth.U.J. 30:1–12.Google Scholar
  29. Posnansky, M. 1969. Bigo bya Mugenyi.U.J. 33:125–50.Google Scholar
  30. Reid, A. 1990. Ntusi and its hinterland: further investigations of the Later Iron Age and pastoral ecology in southern Uganda.N.A. 33:26–8.Google Scholar
  31. Robertshaw, P. 1988. The interlacustrine region: a progress report.N.A. 30:37–8.Google Scholar
  32. Robertshaw, P. 1989. The archaeology of the Bacwezi: Mubende Hill and Munsa Earthworks. Paper presented at African Studies Association annual meeting, Atlanta.Google Scholar
  33. Robertshaw, P. and Collett, D. 1983. A new framework for the study of early pastoral communities in East Africa.J.A.H. 24:289–301.Google Scholar
  34. Robertshaw, P. and Steinhart, E. 1988. Archaeology and the Bacwezi traditions: the political economy of the early Kitara empire. Paper presented at the I.U.A.E.S. Congress, Zagreb.Google Scholar
  35. Roscoe, J. 1923.The Bakitara. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Schmidt, P. R. 1978.Historical Archaeology. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  37. Schmidt, P. R. 1990. Oral traditions and archaeology in Africa. InA History of African Archaeology (ed. P. Robertshaw): pp. 252–70. London: James Currey.Google Scholar
  38. Schoenbrun, D. 1990.Early History in Eastern Africa's Great Lakes Region: linguistic, ecological and archaeological approaches. ca. 500 BC to ca. AD 1000. Ph.D. thesis, University of California, Los Angeles.Google Scholar
  39. Shinnie, P. L. 1960. Excavations at Bigo.U.J. 24:16–28.Google Scholar
  40. Soper, R. C. 1971. Early Iron Age pottery types from East Africa: comparative analysis.Azania 6:39–52.Google Scholar
  41. Soper, R. C. 1985. Roulette decoration on African pottery: technical considerations, dating and distributions.A.A.R. 3:29–51.Google Scholar
  42. Steinhart, E. I. 1980. From ‘empire’ to state: the emergence of the kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara. InThe Study of the State (eds. H. Claessen and P. Skalnik): pp. 353–70. The Hague: Mouton.Google Scholar
  43. Steinhart, E. I. 1984. The emergence of Bunyoro. InState Formation in Eastern Africa (ed. A. I. Salim): pp. 70–90. Nairobi: Heinemann Educational Books.Google Scholar
  44. Sutton, J. E. G. 1985. Ntusi and the ‘dams’.Azania 20:172–5.Google Scholar
  45. Sutton, J. E. G. 1987. The interlacustrine region: new work on the later Iron Age.N.A. 29:62–3.Google Scholar
  46. Sutton, J. E. G. 1989. Ntusi: an interlacustrine town of the 11th to 16th centuries?. Paper presented at African Studies Association annual meeting, Atlanta.Google Scholar
  47. Tantala, R. L. 1989.The Early History of Kitara in Western Uganda: process models of religious and political change. Ph.D. thesis, University of Wisconsin, Madison.Google Scholar
  48. Vierra, R. K. and Carlson, D. L. 1981. Factor analysis, random data and patterned results.American Antiquity 46:272–83.Google Scholar
  49. Webster, J. B. (ed.) 1979.Chronology, Migration and Drought in Interlacustrine Africa. New York: Africana Publishers.Google Scholar
  50. Wright, H. T. 1986. The evolution of civilizations. InAmerican Archaeology: past and future (eds D. J. Meltzer, D. D. Fowler and J. A. Sabloff): pp. 323–65. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.Google Scholar
  51. Wrigley, C. C. 1958. Some thoughts on the BacweziU.J. 22:11–17.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Cambridge University Press 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Robertshaw

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations