The Middens at Tora Nju and Their Adjacent Stone Enclosure

In: Journal of African Archaeology
Edwin N Wilmsen
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James R Denbow
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Tora Nju is the local name for a collapsed stone walled enclosure situated approximately 20km from Sowa Spit, 200 m south of the Mosetse River, and 7 km east of the present strandline of Sowa Pan. The site that takes its name from this ruin includes several midden areas containing pottery, stone tools, and faunal remains along with house structures and grain bins. Excavations were carried out in parts of all these site components. The middens contained a moderately rich suite of materials including sherds, glass and shell beads, metal, and animal bones. The enclosure, however, yielded very little. Consequently, we concentrate here first on the middens before turning to the enclosure. Typical Khami vessel forms predominate throughout the midden stratigraphy; a few midden sherds are comparable with Lose wares in part contemporary with Khami ceramics. A possible earlier Leopard’s Kopje presence is also indicated. Glass beads characteristic of Khami Indo-Pacific series were also recovered from all midden levels. Three charcoal samples yielded contradictory radiocarbon dates for the middens, and we have no direct means for dating the enclosure. We evaluate evidence for a takeover of Sowa salt production by the Khami state sometime in the early 15th century. Finally, we examine historical records and incorporate current linguistic and dna studies of Khoisan and Bantu speakers to illuminate the social history of the Tora Nju region.

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