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Wilmsen, Edwin Norman

Grant Type: 
Post-Ph.D. Research Grant
Insitutional Affiliation: 
Edinburgh, U. of
Completed Grant
Approve Date: 
April 27, 2006
Project Title: 
Wilmsen, Dr. Edwin Norman, U. of Edinburgh, Scotland - To aid research on 'Precolonial Botswana Social Formations: Optical Petrography of Pottery and Clays Linking Peoples, Pots, and Places'

DR. EDWIN N. WILMSEN, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, received funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'Precolonial Botswana Social Formations: Optical Petrography of Pottery and Clays Linking Peoples, Pots, and Places.' Clays from 66 locations in Botswana and adjacent parts of Namibia and South Africa were collected for comparison with Iron Age and Historic pottery. In addition, samples of major plant species growing in different parts of the Delta were collected in order to compare their phytoliths with biogenic silica observed in pot shards. Both clay and shard samples were prepared as thin section slides and examined with petrographic microscopes in both plain and cross polarized light. Variations in trace minerals and biosilica in both clays and shards plus the different mineralogical history of different parts of the region allow the identification of the area from which clays to make specific vessels were obtained. These mineralogical data combined with particulars of ceramic design make it clear that vessels circulated between sites in all parts of the region for as far as 400km. That this movement took place despite the fact that at most sites clays were available locally, and pots were made at the individual sites from these clays, points to the mobility of pots being a function mainly of social rather than technological considerations. Further research on contemporary potting will be undertaken; technological variables of potting will be noted, which will add insights into the present work.

Publication Credits:

Wilmsen, Edwin N., David Killick, Dana Drake Rosenstein, et al. 2009. The Social Geography of Pettery in Botswana as Reconstructed by Optical Petrography. Journal of African Archaeology 7(1):3-39.

Wilmsen, Edwin N. 2009. The Structure of San Property Relations: Constitutional Issues and
Interventionist Politics. Anthropologica 51:53-65.

Wilmsen, Edwin. 2009. Botswana Notes and Records. The Botswana Society: Gaborone.

Wilmsen, Edwin. 2010. Early Villages at Tsodilo: The Introduction of Livestock, Crops, and Metalworking. In Tsodilo Hills: Copper Bracelet of the Kalahari, eds. Alec Campbell, Larry Robbins, and Michael Taylor. Michigan State University Press: East Lansing. The Botswana Society: Gaborone.