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date: 26 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The first millennium AD saw much of south-central and southern Africa transformed by the expansion and consolidation of communities that combined cultivation with herding and smelted and forged iron. They assimilated, displaced, or traded with aboriginal hunter-gatherers. This article refers to them as ‘Early Farming Communities’, using ‘agropastoralists’ as an alternative. Ceramics provide the principal basis for ordering the archaeological record left by these populations and tracing connections between them. The discussion considers subsistence, settlement patterns and the worldview, and trade and sociopolitical organisation. It ends by looking at the emergence of greater political complexity in the late first millennium, the relations between the populations and their successors, and the processes by which Early Farming Communities themselves expanded.

Keywords: cultivation, herding, ceramics, agropastoralists, farming communities, southern Africa

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