African Archaeological Review

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 119–144 | Cite as

The Ethnoarchaeology of Ambush Hunting: A Case Study of ǂGi Pan, Western Ngamiland, Botswana

  • Robert K. HitchcockEmail author
  • Aron L. Crowell
  • Alison S. Brooks
  • John E. Yellen
  • James I. Ebert
  • Alan J. Osborn
Original Article


This paper considers a specific kind of hunting strategy, ambush hunting, employed by Ju/’hoansi San who reside in northwestern Botswana and northeastern Namibia. We examine this hunting technique from ethnoarchaeological, archaeological, historical, and ethnographic perspectives. Data are drawn from an analysis of 14 blinds at ǂGi Pan on the Botswana-Namibia border. These hunting blinds were mapped and two were excavated. Our methods included having Ju/’hoansi show us how they constructed blinds. We also conducted interviews of individuals who constructed and utilized the blinds. Based on this information, we assess the structure, distribution, morphology, contents, function, size, timing of use, and reasons for placement of these specialized hunting facilities. Conclusions are drawn concerning the utilization of ambush hunting and its social, economic, environmental, and technological significance in the northern Kalahari.


Ethnoarchaeology Kalahari Desert Ambush hunting Hunting blinds Ju/’hoansi San ǂGi Pan Predator-prey relations Fauna procurement strategies 


Cet article examine un type particulier de stratégie de chasse, la chasse à l'embuscade employée par Ju / 'hoansi San qui réside dans le nord-ouest du Botswana et le nord-est de la Namibie. Nous examinons cette technique de chasse du point de vue ethnoarchéologique, archéologique, historique, et ethnographique. Les données sont tirées d'une analyse de 14 stores à ǂGi Pan à la frontière entre le Botswana et la Namibie. Ces stores de chasse ont été cartographiés et deux ont été fouillés. Nos méthodes incluaient que Ju / 'hoansi nous montre comment ils construisaient des stores. Nous avons également mené des entrevues avec des personnes qui ont construit et utilisé les stores. À partir de cette information, nous évaluons la structure, la répartition, la morphologie, le contenu, la fonction, la taille, le moment d'utilisation et les raisons du placement de ces installations de chasse spécialisées. Des conclusions sont tirées concernant l'utilisation de la chasse à l'embuscade et son importance sociale, économique, environnementale et technologique.



We wish to express our appreciation to the government of Botswana for the permission to conduct this research. Marieka Brouwer Burg and Meagan Caves prepared several of the figures used in the article. We thank Abel Mabuse Abdenico, Dries Alberts, Stacey Main Alberts, Arthur Albertson, Sonia Arellano-Lopez, Wayne Babchuk, Grace Babutsi, Doug Bamforth, Rabiro Barbarena, Larry Bartram, Ben Begbie-Clench, Gordon Bennett, Barbara Belding, Megan Biesele, Kristyna Bishop, Peter Bleed, /Kunta Bo, Rod Brandenburgh, Steve Brandt, Magdalena Broermann, George Brook, Colin Campbell, Judy Campbell, Niall Campbell, Ken Cannon, Molly Cannon, Caroline Chaboo, Rick Chacon, Roger Chennells, Brian Child, Andy Chebanne, Chris Cox, Tsamkxao Cique, Alyssa Crittenden, Dave Cole, Roger Collinson, Cyler Conrad, Glenn Conroy, David Coulson, David Cownie, George Crawford, David and Meg Cumming, Andre DeGeorges, Paul Devitt, Ute Dieckmann, Lara Diez, Patricia Draper, Pierre Du Plessis, Heather Edgar, Jack Fisher, Judy Frost, George Frison, Jumanda Gakelebone, Musodi Gakelekgolle, Diane Gelburd, Rachel Giraudo, Mike Glassow, Ken Good, Rob Gordon, Rusty Greaves, Matt Guenther, Ray Hames, Thomas Hargrove, Ralph Hartley, Gary Haynes, John Hazam, Nancy Howell, Derek Hudson, Tom Huffman, Kazunobu Ikeya, Ruud Jansen, Aaron Johannes, Amber Johnson, Bob Kelly, Melinda Kelly, John and Jill Kinahan, Loretta Kirkpatrick, Ryan Klataske, Bandu Khomob, Stasja Koot, Marcel Kornfeld, Karen Kramer, Fridrik /Kunta, Steve /Kunta, Jane Lancaster, Mary Lou Larson, Jonathan Laverick, Steve Lawry, Megan Laws, Jason LaBelle, John Ledger, Richard Lee, Larry Loendorf, Bill Lovis, Barb Macy, Mike Main, Stuart Marks, Gustavo Martinez, Revil Mason, Rosinah Masilo-Rakgoasi, /Xashe and Kapella Maswe, Alex McGrath, Fred Morton, Charlie Motshubi, Alice Mogwe, Michael Murphy, Kallie N!aisi, Ron Niezen, Willem Odendaal, John O’Shea, Neil Parsons, Michael Painter, Spencer Pelton, Linda Pfotenhauer, Fleming Puckett, Alison Rautman, Chuck Reher, Claire Ritchie, Beth Ritter, Larry Robbins, Beatrice Sandelowsky, Maria Sapignoli, Vivian Scheinsohn, Ted Scudder, Roy Sesana, Habe Tibi Setshego, John Smelcer, Dan Stiles, Nancy Medaris Stone, Lawrence Straus, Adrian Strong, James Suzman, Akira Takada, Jiro Tanaka, O.T. Thakadu, Axel Thoma, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, Larry Todd, Tsamkxao ≠Oma, Leon Tsamkxao, Jan Tsumib, Wendy Viall, Helga Vierich, Diana Vinding, Hessel and Coby Visser, Victoria Waldock, Nick Walker, Ian Watts, George Wenzel, Thomas Widlok, Edwin Wilmsen, Polly Wiessner, Catherine Willems, Nick Winer, Bob Whallon, Bruce Winterhalder, Pei-Lin Yu, Gren Yuill, Meng Zhang, and the late Lewis Binford, Alec Campbell, Graham Child, Patrick Dickens, John Hardbattle, Kadison Khomob, Braam Leroux, John Marshall, Samochao Mokate, Gakemodimo Mosi, George Silberbauer, and Nkelekang Tsmeru for their suggestions and information. Much of the information on which this paper is based was provided by people from !Ubi, Dobe, /Xai /Xai, Tsodilo, Gautscha, //Ao/oba, Tsumkwe, Manxotae, Tsholotsho, and other northern Kalahari communities. We appreciate greatly their comments, criticisms, patience, and ideas.


This study was funded by US National Science Foundation grants NSF-Soc. 75-02253, NSF-Soc. 75-14227, NSF-Soc. 75-l4227, BNS 76-19633, and BCS 1122932. One of us also received field support in the form of consultancies from the Ford Foundation, Hivos (The Netherlands), the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Remote Area Development Program (RADP) of the government of Botswana, the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), the Millennium Challenge-Account Namibia (MCA-N), and Brot für die Welt (Project No. 2013 0148 G).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA
  2. 2.Smithsonian Arctic Studies CenterAnchorageUSA
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyGeorge Washington UniversityWashington DCUSA
  4. 4.Anthropology ProgramU.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)ArlingtonUSA
  5. 5.Ebert and AssociatesAlbuquerqueUSA
  6. 6.Department of Sociology & Anthropology, 383G ASHUniversity of Nebraska-OmahaOmahaUSA

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