African Archaeological Review

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 225–245 | Cite as

The archaeology of social rank among eighteenth-century nomadic pastoralists in Southern Namibia

  • John Kinahan


The remains of a complex stone- walled encampment at //Khauxa!nas in Namibia provide new insights into the social consequences of European contact with the pastoral Khoi. The Namibian evidence contradicts the general view that the eighteenth- century Khoi were little more than a colonial underclass. Details of layout and construction from //Khauxa!nas point to the rise of a hierarchical organization uniting autonomous households within a pastoral alliance. This development reflects the evolutionary potential of Khoi society at a crucial moment in its history, immediately prior to the rise of armed resistance against colonial rule.

Key words

pastoralism spatial organization contact Khoi Namibia 


Les vestiges d'un campement complexe ceinturé d'un mur de pierre à //Khauxa!nas en Namibie donnent des nouveaux aperçus des conséquences sociales du contact européen avec les Khoi pastoraux. L'évidence namibienne dément les vues générales que les Khoi du 18ème siècle n'étaient plus qu'une sous- classe coloniale. Les détails du plan et de la construction du campement de //Khauxa!nas mettent en évidence l'essor d'une organisation hiérarchique unifiant des ménages autonomes dans l'alliance pastorale. Ce développement reflète le potentiel évolutionniste social de la société Khoi d'un instant crucial de son histoire, immédiatement avant le soulèvement de la résistance armée contre l'autorité coloniale.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Kinahan
    • 1
  1. 1.National Museum of NamibiaWindhoekNamibia

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