Petrographic Perspectives on Ceramic Technology and Provenance in Northern Botswana

Author(s): David Killick; Edwin Wilmsen

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Cross-Cultural Petrographic Studies of Ceramic Traditions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Over the last 45 years, Wilmsen, James Denbow, and others have recovered ceramics from nearly thirty excavated sites, in the northern half of Botswana. Together with Phenyo Thebe and Ann Griffiths, Wilmsen has also sampled clays and sands throughout the region, has obtained samples of raw materials, and prepared pastes and pots from multiple village potters. To date, Killick has made qualitative petrographic descriptions of more than 700 thin-sections samples from these materials. This brief presentation provides a selection of our findings. We document some unusual choices of temper (charcoal, bone) and of clay, including a distinct preference in parts of eastern Botswana for preparing pastes directly from weathered granites. Many prehistoric pots in northwestern Botswana were clearly made from clays obtained from the inland Okavango Delta, as they contain spicules from freshwater sponges and/or plant phytoliths. We can also show that some pots were transported for at least 600km. Some of these appear to relate to the southward migration of pastoralists into northwestern Botswana around 200 CE; there was a second migration into this region around 700 CE, this time of metal-using agropastoralists with very different ceramics.

Cite this Record

Petrographic Perspectives on Ceramic Technology and Provenance in Northern Botswana. David Killick, Edwin Wilmsen. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451525)

Spatial Coverage

min long: 9.58; min lat: -35.461 ; max long: 57.041; max lat: 4.565 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23010