The intersection of archaeology, oral tradition and history in the South African interior.
Boeyens, J C A
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The historical entanglement of indigenous and colonial societies in South Africa created not only multiple points of social and cultural interaction, but also a repository of interconnected material, oral and documentary records. A multi-source, comparative approach across disciplinary boundaries is, therefore, essential to achieve a full and seamless account of late precolonial and early colonial African history. Oral tradition could serve as a bridge between archaeology and text-based history, thereby enabling historically known political lineages to be connected with the archaeological ruins of specific precolonial African towns. Similarly, documentary sources on African societies of the interior are often very limited in scope even deep into the nineteenth century, as a result of which the complementary use of archaeological methods and data becomes a methodological imperative. Three case studies from the South African interior, Marothodi, Kaditshwene and Magoro Hill, are presented to illustrate the explanatory potential of an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the more recent African past.