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Excavations at the Iron Age Village Site of Fibobe II, Central Zambia

In: Journal of African Archaeology
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  • 1 Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, 07745 Jena, Germany
  • | 2 School of Social Science, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia
  • | 3 Department of Historical and Archaeological Studies, University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia
  • | 4 Department of Anthropology, Rice University, Houston, TX 77005, USA
  • | 5 School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 3TG, UK
  • | 6 Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic
  • | 7 Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Knoxville, TN 37920, USA
  • | 8 Department of Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560, USA
  • | 9 Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, T2N 1N4, Canada
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Abstract

The period from c. AD 900 to AD 1300 in southern Africa is characterized by transitions from small-scale Iron Age mixed economy communities to the beginnings of more intensive food production and eventually the emergence of complex polities. In Zambia, this coincides with the appearance of larger and more permanent agro-pastoralist villages that began participating in Indian Ocean trade networks. Unlike other parts of southern Africa where stone architecture became common, the predominance of wattle-and-daub type construction methods across Zambia have often impeded preservation of Iron Age activity areas. It has therefore been difficult to reconstruct how economic and land-use changes between the Early and Later Iron Ages impacted family and community relationships reflected in intra-site and intra-household spatial organization. Fibobe II, in the Mulungushi River Basin of Central Zambia, is a rare example of an Early-to-Mid Iron Age village site where these spatial patterns may be discernable due to preservation of activity spaces and vitrified remains of wattle-and-daub structures. This paper reports on new investigations following original testing of the site in 1979, confirming preservation of an Iron Age hut with distinct patterning of features, artifacts, and charcoal. These results reaffirm the unique nature of Fibobe II and indicate the potential for programs of household archaeology aimed at studying this important and understudied period in Zambian prehistory.

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