Less Implict Historical Archaeologies: Oral Traditions and Later Karanga Settlement in South-Central Zimbabwe

  • Innocent Pikirayi
Part of the Contributions to Global Historical Archaeology book series (CGHA)

Abstract

It is possible to argue that historical archaeology in Zimbabwe is essentially the archaeology of the spread of European culture into the region and the impact this had on the indigenous Karanga, Rozvi, Manyika and other groups (for examples, see Garlake 1967; 1969; Whitty 1959), since European texts have been available from the beginning of the sixteenth century. This, however, offers only a limited perspective on the discipline since the area covered by the Portuguese, who arrived on the Zimbabwe Plateau just after 1500, is confined to the northern, and eastern Plateau and the adjacent lowlands. Besides which, following the expulsion of the Portuguese from the northern Plateau areas at the end of the seventeenth century, there are no written sources directly referring to events in Zimbabwe until the second half of the nineteenth century when British missionaries, concession seekers, hunters and traders arrived from south of the Limpopo River. Thus the spread of European culture and institutions was limited to the northern and south-western sections of the Plateau, leaving the rest largely unaffected, but no less historical. Although recent studies have shown that one can focus on European expansion and colonisation, domination and resistance as well as the economic and political forms generated by African-European contact (Pikirayi 1993; 1997), there are serious research problems which arise from studying the various indigenous communities who lived in areas not covered by early and even later European observers. It is in these areas that the use of non-European documentary evidence, especially oral traditions, helps the archaeologist to understand, for example, the processes connected with the retreat from socio-political complexity on the Zimbabwe Plateau. By this I mean that without such information, it is difficult to understand the decline of the Zimbabwe Culture — a culture system that subsumes at least five if not six, states (Mapungubwe, 1050–1270; Great Zimbabwe, 1280 – 1550; Torwa, 1450–1680; Mutapa, 1450–1900; Rozvi, 1680–1830).

Keywords

Migration Quartz Maize Graphite Beach 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Beach, D.N. 1980. The Shona and Zimbabwe: an outline of Shona history. Gweru: Mambo Press.Google Scholar
  2. Beach, D.N. 1983. Oral history and archaeology in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe Prehistory 20: 8–11.Google Scholar
  3. Beach, D.N. 1984. Zimbabwe before 1900. Gweru: Mambo Press.Google Scholar
  4. Beach, D.N. 1988. ‘Refuge’ archaeology, trade and gold in nineteenth century Zimbabwe: Izidoro Correia Pereira’s list of 1859. Zimbabwean Prehistory 20: 1–8.Google Scholar
  5. Beach, D.N. 1994a. A Zimbabwean Past: Shona dynastic histories and oral traditions. Gweru: Mambo Press.Google Scholar
  6. Beach, D.N. 1994b. The Shona and their Neighbours. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  7. Burke, E.E. (ed) 1969. The Journals of Carl Mauch: his travels in the Transvaal and Rhodesia, 1869–1872. Salisbury: National Archives of Rhodesia.Google Scholar
  8. Garlake, P.S. 1967. Seventeenth century Portuguese earthworks in Rhodesia. South African Archaeological Bulletin 21: 157–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Garlake, P.S. 1969. Excavations at the seventeenth-century Portuguese site of Dambarare, Rhodesia. Proceedings and Transactions of the Rhodesia Scientific Association 54 (1): 23–61.Google Scholar
  10. Huffman, T. N. 1971. A guide to the Iron Age of northern Mashonaland. Occasional Papers of the National Museums of Rhodesia 4(1): 21–44.Google Scholar
  11. Huffman, T.N. 1974a. The Leopard’s Kopje Tradition. Museum Memoir 6. Salisbury: National Museums and Monuments of Rhodesia.Google Scholar
  12. Huffman, T. N. 1974b. The linguistic affinities of the Iron Age in Rhodesia. Arnoldia 1 (7): 1–12.Google Scholar
  13. Huffman, T.N. 1986. Iron Age settlement patterns and the origins of class dinstinction in southern Africa. In F. Wendorf and A.E. Close (eds) Advances in World Archaeology 5: 291–338. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  14. Izzet, M.R. 1980. Preliminary report on excavation on Crowborough Farm Salsibury District. Rhodesian Prehistory 18: 7–9.Google Scholar
  15. McDonald, P. 1979. The excavation of Boggie’s Hill, Gwelo. Rhodesian Prehistory 17: 2–7.Google Scholar
  16. Ndoro, W. 1991. Why decorate her? Zimbabwea 3(1): 60–5.Google Scholar
  17. Pikirayi, I. 1993. An Archaeological Identity of the Mutapa State: towards an historical archaeology of northern Zimbabwe. Studies in African Archaeology 6. Uppsala: Acta Arkeologica Upsaliensis.Google Scholar
  18. Pikirayi, I. 1997. Recent trends in Historical Archaeology on the Zimbabwe Plateau and adjacent margins. In G. Pwiti (ed) Caves, Monuments and Texts: Zimbabwean archaeology today: 143–159. Uppsala: Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University. Studies in African Archaeology 14.Google Scholar
  19. Summers, R. 1958. Inyanga: prehistoric settlements in Southern Rhodesia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Thornycroft, C.E. 1974. Test excavation on Sheffield Farm, Wedza. Rhodesian Prehistory 13: 14–20.Google Scholar
  21. Vansina, J. 1965. Oral tradition: a study in historical methodology. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  22. Vansina, J. 1985. Oral tradition as history. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
  23. Whitty, A. 1959. A classification of prehistoric stone buildings in Mashonaland, Southern Rhodesia. South African Archaeological Bulletin 14: 57–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Innocent Pikirayi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of ZimbabweZimbabwe

Personalised recommendations