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date: 14 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

During the last fifty years, the conventional view has been that livestock and pottery first reached the frontiers of southern Africa with immigrant, Bantu-speaking farmers. The herding way of life then spread southwards with the Khoekhoe-speaking branch of the indigenous ‘Khoesan’ populations. Archaeologically, the Bantu migrations are well documented, but the evidence for Khoekhoen migration is meagre. Indeed, linguistic and chronological evidence refute the conventional view. In many southeastern Bantu languages, the words for livestock are of Khoe origin, and southern African pottery predates the arrival of the first farmers. This article considers two alternatives: either, the earliest livestock and pottery reached southernmost Africa by a process of diffusion and without the help of any migrating herder-potters; or, a migration of non-Bantu-speaking herders brought livestock to the subcontinent before the arrival of Bantu farmers. The discussion examines the archaeological evidence from these two perspectives.

Keywords: pottery, Bantu-speaking farmers, southern Africa, diffusion, migrating herder-potters, archaeological evidence, Khoekhoen migration

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