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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Creating maps as historical evidence: reconsidering settlement patterns and group relations in the Rustenburg-Pilanesberg area before 1810
Author:Morton, FredISNI
Year:2008
Periodical:New contree: a journal of historical and human sciences for Southern Africa
Issue:56
Pages:1-22
Language:English
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:social history
cartography
settlement patterns
ethnic relations
precolonial period
Abstract:Using the online Agricultural Geographic Information System (AGIS) Comprehensive Atlas database, together with oral traditions and topocadastral maps, the author created terrain and soil maps illustrating 18th-century settlements of eight of the fifteen groups (societies, communities, tribes, polities) in the Rustenburg-Pilanesberg area of Transvaal, South Africa, viz. the Tlhako-Tlokwa cluster, the Kwena-Fokeng cluster, the Kwena-Po cluster, and the Kgatla-Phalane cluster. The maps demonstrate the importance of soil and water resources in the choice of settlement sites and reveal settlement patterns that contradict prevailing notions about intergroup relations in the pre-mfecane period. These historical maps, used alongside a review of oral traditions, challenge the claims of N. Parsons and A. Manson, which state that groups in the Rustenburg-Pilanesberg area were drawn into increasing conflict in the decades prior to the mfecane. Instead, the author argues that from the 17th century the groups in the area optimized their agricultural and herding options in spaces at comfortable distances from one another, created settlements that were non-defensive in nature, and lived for generations in a state of equilibrium, albeit marked by occasional periods of conflict. The long period of equilibrium collapsed abruptly with the invasion of the Pedi in the early 1820s. In reconstructing the historical dynamics of the people of the Rustenburg-Pilanesberg area, the author suggests that greater attention should be paid to individual groups and interdisciplinary approaches. Notes, ref., sum. in Afrikaans. [ASC Leiden abstract]
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