DR. EDWIN WILMSEN, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, was awarded a grant in April 2013 to aid research on 'Potters, Clays, and Lands: An Ethnoarchaeological Study of the Social Dimensions of Pottery in Botswana.' A potting clay mine and a nearby archaeological site at Manaledi village in the Tswapong Hills of Botswana were excavated. The work and family histories of current potters in this village, along with those of 41 potters in five other villages, were studied using ethnohistorical methods. Clay from the mine and sherds from the excavations and current potters were prepared as thin section slides and examined by petrography. Uniformity in trace minerals in the Manaledi clays and sherds confirm that clay from the mine has been used for potting exclusively at Manaledi for several generations. Manaledi ancestors, and the Hills themselves, are powerful guardians of the mines and their interests must be protected. Among these interests is procreation, and unlike at other villages, pregnant Manaledi women may work the mines and continue potting. Ancestry and pregnancy are bipolar attributes of community continuity bound together with tenurial rights in land through descent and are emphasized by village potters. Potters at all the villages studied are of varying age, status, religion, and skill levels; most are elderly women (40-79 years old) living in rural areas, but younger women are increasingly becoming apprentices to supplement their income, as demand for clay pots is expanding in both traditional and commercial markets.
Post-Ph.D. Research Grant
Witwatersrand, U. of
Wilmsen, Dr. Edwin Norman, U. of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa - To aid research on 'Pottery, Clays, and Lands: An Ethnoarchaeological Study of the Social Dimensions of Pottery in Botswana'