Joanna Behrens and Natalie Swanepoel
The character of historical archaeology in South Africa has been cast by the geography of its development and the historical roots of its subject matter. Arising in the south-western Cape, where Europeans collided with the nomadic Khoe and Bushmen, research agendas meshed with broader sub-disciplinary goals for a global, comparative archaeology of the last 500 years. In practice, this led to a focus on sites associated with European colonists. Investigations issuing from the ‘other side’ of these encounters were rare. In this chapter we acknowledge the important precedents set by pioneer researchers and explore how historical archaeologies in the interior offer new directions. Here encroaching colonists met established farming groups, encounters that set in motion complex and historically situated long-term entanglements. Recent and developing research in these areas signals a growing maturity within the field, enhanced by increasing collaboration among archaeologists of different sub-disciplinary persuasions, and between archaeologists and historians.
Kenneth G. Kelly
The Atlantic slave trade has been the focus of archaeological work in a number of West African countries. Much of the work has emphasized the impressive trade castles of the Ghana coast, where extensive European constructions demonstrate the importance of the slave trade in the regions’ history. Work has also been conducted on other settings, including in Bénin, where African agency manifested itself differently than on the Gold Coast of modern Ghana; Sierra Leone and Gambia, where European trading establishments were typically smaller; and Guinea, where the ‘illegal’ slave trade of the nineteenth century blossomed. Many of these sites of enslavement have become important parts of local heritage, as well as a global heritage of African-descended people and the heritage tourism associated with the African Diaspora.