NTSHEKANE AND THE END OF THE EARLY IRON AGE
Tue, 14/05/2019 - 18:30
SA Astronomical Observatory auditorium
Ntshekane is an Early Iron Age site in central KwaZulu-Natal, first excavated by Tim Maggs in 1973. It was heavily eroded then and still is today, with many new features exposed. We returned to the site in 2009 and since then have mapped all exposed features and excavated some of them. The results have enabled us to construct a settlement history for the site, which covers the period AD 650–1050. The data from Ntshekane and other contemporaneous sites in the region are now good enough to support a detailed interpretation of marriage in Early Iron Age communities, beyond the basic ‘wives for cattle’ model. Ntshekane is also the first site to provide evidence of interaction between Early and Late Iron Age communities, with pits containing pottery of both. It seems likely that the new pots represent marriage alliances between the two groups. Not long afterwards, the Early Iron Age cultural signature disappeared from the landscape. One possible explanation is that Late Iron Age marriage practice provided an alternative that young Early Iron Age men and women adopted and preferred.