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African Archaeological Review

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 153–179 | Cite as

Who Lived in Mauermanshoek Shelter, Korannaberg, South Africa?

  • Lyn Wadley
Article

Abstract

Mauermanshoek Shelter, in the Korannaberg of the eastern Free State, has traditional San hunter–gatherer rock art together with white finger-painted horsemen of uncertain authorship. The excavated material dates to between 3500 bp and approximately 200 bp. The lithic assemblages show little change throughout, but ceramics, glass beads, and domesticated animal remains appear in the uppermost levels. The issue of most interest is that of the shelter's occupancy in the last few hundred years. Historical records show that the ethnic composition of the eastern Free State was complex during this time and that there were both aggressive and cooperative interactions between the various groups. Kora pastoralists were notorious stock raiders and the secure identification of other people on the landscape was complicated by a tendency for early writers to call all raiders “Kora.” A combination of archaeological and historical evidence suggests that San occupied the shelter for most of its history but that Kora herders may have been responsible for the finger-painted horsemen somewhere between 1837 and 1851 when a Wesleyan Mission Station, Merumetsu, served the Kora of Korannaberg.

La grotte de Mauermanshoek, située dans le Korannaberg, à l'est de la province du Free State, contient des peintres rupestres de tradition San, réalisées par des chasseurs/bergers, ainsi que des cavaliers blancs, peint avec le doigt, d'une origine incertaine. Le matériel qu'on a trouvé dans les fouilles daté d'une période entre 3500 bp et approximativement 200 bp. L'industrie lithique est très homogène sur l'ensemble du site, mais des céramiques, des perles de verre et des restes d'animaux domestiques sont présents aux niveaux supérieurs. L'occupation de l'abri pendant les quelques centaines d'années passées est d'un inérêt tout particulier. Selon les archives historiques, la composition ethnique de la partie est du Free State était, à l'époque, complexe et il y avait les interactions à la fois agressifs et coopératifs entre les groupes différents. Les pasteurs Kora sont bien connus pour leur réputation d'attaquer les troupeaux mais l'identification certaine des autres peuplades est compliquée par le fait que les premiers écrivains rapportaient tous les aggresseurs comme des “Kora.” Une combinaison d'indices archeologiques et historiques suggère que les San occupèrent cette grotte pour la plus grande partie de son histoire mais que des bergers Kora pourraient être à l'origine des cavaliers peints avec le doigt, probablement entre 1837–1851, la période durant laquelle une mission Wesleyan servait le Kora de la région du Korannaberg.

historical records Later Stone Age rock shelter excavations eastern Free State finger paintings 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lyn Wadley
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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