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SHONA ETHNOGRAPHY AND IRON AGE BURIALS

SHONA ETHNOGRAPHY AND IRON AGE BURIALS Although Shona society has undergone much change, it is still a valid source of hypotheses about Iron Age burials. Death is part of a cycle that underpins the separate treatment of infants, children, young adults and adults. Everyone except chiefs should lie in a sleeping posture, and their location in the settlement depends on age, status and kinship. Adults should point westerly and lie on their left or right side depending on their status and gender. Everyone must be buried, including strangers and social outcasts, and anomalies to the normal pattern also follow cultural rules. The Shona rules have multiple points of correspondence with burials at Kgaswe and other Iron Age sites in southern Africa. Shona ethnography fits the archaeological data well because it is part of a larger nexus of Eastern Bantu culture: in contrast, Western Bantu ethnography does not fit the archaeology. Successful interpretations such as this involve the recursive interplay between ethnographic and archaeological data. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of African Archaeology Brill

SHONA ETHNOGRAPHY AND IRON AGE BURIALS

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© Copyright 2003 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1612-1651
eISSN
2191-5784
DOI
10.3213/1612-1651-10012
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Although Shona society has undergone much change, it is still a valid source of hypotheses about Iron Age burials. Death is part of a cycle that underpins the separate treatment of infants, children, young adults and adults. Everyone except chiefs should lie in a sleeping posture, and their location in the settlement depends on age, status and kinship. Adults should point westerly and lie on their left or right side depending on their status and gender. Everyone must be buried, including strangers and social outcasts, and anomalies to the normal pattern also follow cultural rules. The Shona rules have multiple points of correspondence with burials at Kgaswe and other Iron Age sites in southern Africa. Shona ethnography fits the archaeological data well because it is part of a larger nexus of Eastern Bantu culture: in contrast, Western Bantu ethnography does not fit the archaeology. Successful interpretations such as this involve the recursive interplay between ethnographic and archaeological data.

Journal

Journal of African ArchaeologyBrill

Published: Oct 25, 2003

Keywords: burial patterns; Central Cattle Pattern; Iron Age; Shona cosmology; southern Africa

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