Foragers during a period of social upheaval on the middle Limpopo Valley landscape
Tim Forssman
Tue, 08/03/2022 - 18:30 to 19:30
Western Cape
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By the turn of the second millennium AD, farmer societies in central southern Africa were undergoing significant economic, political and social transformations that would ultimately lead to the appearance of state-level society. This included the appearance of social hierarchies, elite groups, trade wealth, specialisation, and a royal leadership system. Whereas this is relatively well-studied in the region, the forager sequence, and their involvement in these systems, is scarcely acknowledged, despite their presence before, and during, the farmer-occupation period. Instead, foragers are often seen as passive in local economies and thought to begin ‘disappearing’ after AD 1000. In this seminar, I present new data from Little Muck Shelter and examine how foragers were far more integrated into local landscape-wide social and economic systems. I specifically look at the micro-landscape around the site, which includes rock art sites and important farmer centres, and how change over time in this limited area relates to larger landscape patterns in the valley.

Tim Forssman is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Mpumalanga in Cultural and Heritage Studies. He has worked at the University of Pretoria, where he also spent two years as a postdoctoral reader before a year at the University of the Witwatersrand, and for PGS Heritage on a dam mitigation project in Lesotho. Tim is a current recipient of the National Research Foundation’s African Origins Platform Grant, which will fund his research into forager technologies, innovations, and indigenous knowledge systems during the rise of the Mapungubwe state. This study falls under the Hunter-gatherer Archaeological Research Project, which aims to develop a more inclusive history of foragers in the middle Limpopo Valley. His research interests include forager-farmer interactions, forager economies, trade dynamics, landscape archaeology, and rock art. Tim is also an editorial board member at Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa and has recently completed a book titled Foragers in the middle Limpopo Valley: trade, place-making, and complexity.

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