Characterisation of archaeological ceramics from the Khwebe Hills of northern Botswana

Sorcha Diskin, Ceri Ashley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this paper is to present an unusual approach to studying the provenance of archaeological ceramics. To this end, a series of ceramic sherds from a nineteenth century Tswana site in the Khwebe Hills of northern Botswana are considered. Visual analysis has divided the ceramics into three fabric and two stylistic groups, including styles broadly consistent with Tswana and Khoekhoe pottery typologies. Thirty four samples were subject to analysis by XRD and ICP (AES and MS) and the results analysed using sediment provenance analysis diagrams. This analysis verified the visual data, and identified at least two discrete areas of provenance; one local to the Khwebe Hills, and another >. 100 km away. These results are interpreted as evidence of sustained contact between hunter-gatherers and herder groups in the Khwebe Hills, and incoming agro-pastoral Tswana settlers. This has implications for the understanding of early settler/autochthon relations in the region, suggesting higher levels of mutual interaction than previously supposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)574-583
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • Botswana
  • Ceramics
  • ICP (AES & MS)
  • Khoekhoe
  • Khwebe Hills
  • Tswana
  • XRD


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