From the Dawn of History to the Time of Troubles

  • T. R. H. Davenport
  • Christopher Saunders


South Africa has provided a home for human settlement since very early times. The presence of homo sapiens goes back perhaps 125,000 years. These ‘first South Africans’, as Inskeep calls them, were followed much later by hand-tool makers of the Middle Stone Age, probably 40,000 years ago. Since the first arrival of human beings, the region has been occupied by small mobile groups of hunter-gatherers living in nuclear families which aggregated and dispersed in relation to ecological necessity, so as to manage food resources. Sites like the Klasies river mouth in the south-east Cape suggest the emergence of thinking people who appreciated colour symbolism through the use in their rock art of ochres perhaps acquired through exchange of goods.


Eighteenth Century Human Problem Colour Symbolism Dutch East India Company London Missionary Society 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Bibliographical Notes

1.1. The Earliest South Africans

  1. Bank A. and Smuts M. eds, Proceedings of the Khoisan Identities and Cultural Heritage Conference, 1997 (1997);Google Scholar
  2. Bleek, D., The Distribution of Bushman Languages in South Africa (1927);Google Scholar
  3. Deacon H. J., ‘The late Pleistocene-Holocene archaeological depositories from the southern Cape’, SAAB 2, 162 (1995) 121–31;Google Scholar
  4. and with Deacon J., Human Beginnings in South Africa: the Secrets of the Stone Age (1999);Google Scholar
  5. Hall M., The Changing Past: Farmers, Kings and Traders in Southern Africa, 200–1860 (1987);Google Scholar
  6. Inskeep R. R., The Peopling of Southern Africa (1978);Google Scholar
  7. Lewis-Williams J. D., Believing and Seeing: Symbolic Meanings in Southern San Rock Paintings (1981); and ‘The signs of all times: entoptic phenomena in upper paleolithic art’, CA (1988) 201–46; and in SAJSci (1989);Google Scholar
  8. and with T. A. Dowson, Images of Power: Understanding Bushman Rock Art (1989);Google Scholar
  9. Parkington J., ‘Interpreting paintings without a commentary: meaning and motive, content and composition in the rock art of the western Cape, South Africa’, Ant. 63, 238 (1989) 13–26;Google Scholar
  10. Tobias P. V., Hominid Evolution — Past, Present and Future (1985), and in *Cameron and Spies 11–27.Google Scholar

1.2 The Khoisan peoples

  1. Ehret C., ‘Cattle-keeping and milking in eastern and southern African history: the linguistic evidence’, JAH (1967) 1–17; Elphick R. H., Khoikhoi and the Founding of White South Africa (1985);Google Scholar
  2. Robertshaw P. T., ‘The origins of pastoralism in the Cape’, SAHJ 10 (1978) 117–33;Google Scholar
  3. Schapera I., The Khoisan Peoples of South Africa (1930);Google Scholar
  4. Smith A. B., ‘The origins and demise of the Khoikhoi …’, SAHJ 23 (1990) 3–14; and The Khoikhoi at the Cape of Good Hope: 17th Century Drawings in the S. A. Library (1993), and in SAAB 50 (1995) 83–6;Google Scholar
  5. Vinnicombe P., People of the Eland: Rock Painting of the Drakensberg Bushmen as a Reflection of their Life and Thought (1976);Google Scholar
  6. Westphal E. O. J., ‘The linguistic prehistory of Southern Africa: Bush, Kwadi, Hottentot and Bantu linguistic relationships’, Africa 23, 3 (1963) 237–65; Wilson M., ‘The hunters and the herders’, in *Wilson and Thompson I.40–74;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Wright J. B., Bushman Raiders of the Drakensberg (1971).Google Scholar

1.3. The emergence of Bantu-speaking chiefdoms

  1. Beach D. N., The Shona and Zimbabwe, 900–1850 (1980);Google Scholar
  2. Garlake P. S., Great Zimbabwe (1973);Google Scholar
  3. Huffman T. N., ‘African origins’, SAJS 75, 5 (1979) 233–37; Legassick M. in *Thompson, African Societies 86–125;Google Scholar
  4. Maggs T., Iron Age Communities of the Southern Highveld (1976), and ‘The iron age sequence south of the Vaal and Pongola rivers…’, JAH 21, 1 (1980) 1–15; Marks S. in Thompson, African Societies 126–44;Google Scholar
  5. Miller D. and Van der Merwe N. J., ‘Early metal-working in sub-Saharan Africa…’, JAH35 (1994) 1–36;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Oliver R. and Fagan B. M., Africa in the Iron Age, c.500 BC to AD 1400 (1975);Google Scholar
  7. Phillipson D. W., The Later Pre-History of Eastern and Southern Africa (1977), and African Archaeology (1985);Google Scholar
  8. Vansina J., ‘New linguistic evidence and Bantu expansion’, JAH 36 (1995) 173–96; Van Warmelo N. J. in *Hammond-Tooke 56–74;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Wilson M., ‘The early history of the Transkei and Ciskei’, AS 18, 4 (1959) 167–79; and in *Wilson and Thompson I 75–186.Google Scholar

1.4 The upheavals of the early nineteenth century

  1. Bonner P. L., Kings, Commoners and Concessionaires: The Evolution and Dissolution of the 19th Century Swazi State (1982);Google Scholar
  2. Cobbing J. R. D., ‘The Mfecane as alibi: thoughts on Dithakong and Mbolompo’, JAH 29 (1988) 487–519;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Daniel J. B. McI., ‘A geographical study of pre-Shakan Zululand’, SAGJ 55 (1973) 23–31;Google Scholar
  4. Davenport T. R. H. in SAHJ 35 (1996) 193–201,Google Scholar
  5. and with Hunt K. S. (eds), The Right to the Land (1974);Google Scholar
  6. Delius P. N., The Land Belongs to Us: The Pedi Polity, the Boers and the British in the 19th Century Transvaal (1983); Eldredge E., ‘Sources of conflict in southern Africa: the Mfecane reconsidered’, in *Hamilton, and JAH 33 (1992) 1–35; * Eldredge and Morton;Google Scholar
  7. Garlake P. S., Great Zimbabwe (1973);Google Scholar
  8. Gluckman M., ‘The rise of the Zulu empire’, Sci.Am. 202 (1960) 157–67; and ‘The individual in a social framework: the rise of Shaka and the Zulu kingdom’, JAS 1 (1974) 113–44; Guy J. in *Marks and Atmore 102–19; Hall M. (n. 1.1) and ICS 8 (1976/77) 11–20;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. * Hamilton C. A. (ed.), The Mfecane Aftermath (1995); and Terrific Majesty: The Power of Shaka Zulu and the Limits of Historical Invention (1998);Google Scholar
  10. Harries P., ‘Slavery, social incorporation and surplus extraction: the nature of free and unfree labour in south-east Africa’, JAH 22 (1981) 309–30; Hartley G. in *Hamilton 395–616; Hedges D. W. (Ph.D. thesis, London, 1978); How M., ‘An alibi for MmaNthatisi’, Inskeep (n. 1.1.);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kros C., Wright J., Guy J. and Etherington N., ‘Carolyn Hamilton’s Terrific Majesty’, SAHJ 39 (1998) 199–235; AS 13 (1954) 65–76; Legassick M. in *Elphick and Giliomee (1989) 358–420;Google Scholar
  12. Lye W. F., ‘The Difaqane: the Mfecane in the south Sotho area’, JAH 8 (1867) 103–31; and ‘The Ndebele kingdom south of the Limpopo river’, JAH 10 (1969) 87–109;Google Scholar
  13. Newitt M. D. D. ‘Drought in Mozambique, 1823–31’, JSAS 15 (1988) 15–35;Google Scholar
  14. Omer-Cooper J., The Zulu Aftermath (1966); and ‘Has the Mfecane a future? a response to the Cobbing critique’ JSAS 19 (1993) 273–94; and in *Hamilton 277–300; Parsons N. in *Hamilton 301–6, 323–50;Google Scholar
  15. Peires J. B., ‘Paradigm deleted: the materialist interpretation of the Mfecane’, JSAS 19 (1993) 295–313’, and in *Hamilton 213–40; and (n. 4.4.);Google Scholar
  16. Pridmore J. A. in SAHJ 35 (1996) 202–10;Google Scholar
  17. Rasmussen R. K., Migrant Kingdom: Mzilikazi’s Ndebele in South Africa (1978); Sanders P. B. (n. 7.4); Saunders C. C. in *Hamilton 21–34;Google Scholar
  18. Thompson G., Travels and Adventures in Southern Africa (1967); Wilson M. and Smith A. in Thompson L. M. (n. 4.3);Google Scholar
  19. Wright J. B. ‘The Mfecane debate’, SARB 39/40 (1995) 18–19, and in *Hamilton 107–22, 163–82; and in *Duminy and Guest 49–82; Webb C. de B. and Wright J. B. (eds) (n. 4.6).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© T. R. H. Davenport and Christopher Saunders 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. R. H. Davenport
    • 1
  • Christopher Saunders
    • 2
  1. 1.Rhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  2. 2.University of Cape TownSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations