Conventional wisdom has it that ceramic technology reached southernmost Africa with or just ahead of the so-called Iron Age, Bantu migrations of ca 2000 years ago. A review of the evidence suggests that the earliest ceramics in the subcontinent are thin-walled and smooth surfaced vessels, technologically quite distinct from the first thick-walled, coarse surfaced “Iron Age” ware of the subcontinent, and predating the latter by two to four centuries. There is no published evidence of a thin-walled ware to the north of the Zambezi, although undated examples are known from coastal Angola. It seems unlikely that the thin-walled wares in southernmost Africa represent a residue of some mass human migration in the distant past. It is more likely that the art of making fired clay pots reached the subcontinent through archaeologically invisible infiltrations by small groups, perhaps peripatetic artisans; or it may have been invented locally.
Journal of African Archaeology – Brill
Published: Oct 25, 2006
Keywords: early ceramics; fibre-tempered pottery; Southern Africa; Later Stone Age; Early Iron Age