The Prehistory of Southern Africa

By J. Desmond Clark | Go to book overview

FOREWORD

BY

M. E. L. MALLOWAN

Professor of Western Asiatic Archaeology in the University of London

THIS book, a worthy successor to Sonia Cole Prehistory of East Africa, is a notable addition to the Pelican archaeological series. Specialists concerned with Africa now have a small encyclopaedia with something illuminating to contribute about every aspect of its prehistory. But the scope goes far beyond the specialist's range, for here is an extraordinary contrast to what archaeology has revealed about the ancient peoples of Egypt and Western Asia, already described in other volumes. Indeed, it seems incredible that the Iron Age in southern Africa did not, so far as we know, begin before the Christian era; that before Zimbabwe, perhaps as late as A.D. 1500, there was no architecture on a grand scale; that no native form of writing was ever invented. The author has explained that the great swamps or Sudd behind the headwaters of the Nile and the Sahara Desert were permanent obstacles to communication with the more developed civilizations. Moreover, the difficulties of sustaining long-range navigation prevented the establishment of firm contact, until just over a thousand years ago the Arabs began to exploit African gold in an organized way. Unawareness of technological achievements long known in the Levant and Western Asia is enough to disprove the contentions of those who would see the influences of archaic Egypt, Crete, Sumer, and Phrygia on the cave paintings of southern Africa; the comparisons are in any case superficial and without real connexion.

In southern Africa, therefore, we have a golden opportunity of seeing what could be achieved without knowledge of techniques which we. regard as indispensable to civilization. The wonderfully accomplished Stone Age industries seem to justify the definition of man as a tool- making animal; their development made him more cruelly efficient, progressively lethal in the subjugation of nature to his will. With these aids, when necessary the primitive vegetarian became a meat eater. The chase imposed on him law, order, communication, efficient planning. In his spare time he became an artist, and expressed his

-xxiii-

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The Prehistory of Southern Africa
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Plates vii
  • List of Text Figures ix
  • List of Maps xvii
  • List of Tables xix
  • Acknowledgements xxi
  • Foreword xxiii
  • Introduction xxv
  • Chapter One - The Land and the People 1
  • Chapter Two - Building Up the Story 24
  • Chapter Three - The Man-Apes 58
  • Chapter Four - Fossil Man in Southern Africa 74
  • Chapter Five - Unspecialized Hunter-Gatherers 102
  • Chapter Six - Specialization Begins 131
  • Chapter Seven - The Microlithic Revolution 166
  • Chapter Eight - The Later Stone Age 185
  • Chapter Nine - Daily Life in the Later Stone Age 217
  • Chapter Ten - Prehistoric Art 253
  • Chapter Eleven - Miners, Metal-Workers, And Builders in Stone 281
  • References 315
  • Index 331
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