The Manaledi Clay Mine: A ca. 1500 Year-Long Record of Potting from a Single Clay Source in the Tswapong Hills, Eastern Botswana

Edwin N. Wilmsen, Anne Griffiths, David Killick, Phenyo Thebe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Current potters in Manaledi village in the Tswapong Hills of Botswana aver that they and their ancestors for five generations have made pottery exclusively with clay from nearby sources. We begin with an examination of Manaledi and its clay mine to uncover current dialectics between village, landscape, clay, potters, and ancestors. Archaeological sherds found around the village and clay sources document occupation by makers of Early Iron Age (ca. AD 500-750), Middle Iron Age (ca. AD 750-1050), Late Iron Age (ca. AD 1420-1800), and 18th-20th century wares related to current Manaledi pottery. The proximity of archaeological deposits, clay sources, and village made it possible to conduct simultaneously what might otherwise be considered three separate projects. As a consequence, we are able to document that Manaledi clays have been used to make pottery for some 1500 years and to consider long-standing constraints on potting this implies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-149
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of African Archaeology
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Botswana
  • Iron Age
  • optical petrography
  • pottery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Archaeology

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