Author: David Wilmsen

Abstract

Despite the notion that written Arabic is invariable across the Arab world, a few researchers, using large corpora to discover patterns of usage, have demonstrated regional differences in Arabic writing. While most such research has focussed upon the lexicon, this corpus-based study examines a syntactic difference between Egyptian and Levantine writing: the treatment of object pronouns. A search of an entire year of writing in regional newspapers found that Levantine writers tend to use the free object pronoun iyyā-, placing the direct object after the indirect, about twice as often as Egyptian writers do, who for their part prefer to place the direct object before the indirect. A proposed reason for this is that the free object pronoun is used to mark the direct object in spoken Levantine vernaculars but not in Egyptian. This seems to indicate that local spoken vernaculars exert a fundamental influence on writing.

In: Arabica
Author: David Wilmsen

Abstract

The familiar Arabic pronominal object marker iyyā- performs other functions within the language. One of these, the demonstrative, has been recognized in spoken Egyptian Arabic but passes virtually unremarked in written Arabic. Nevertheless, it is so used by writers from the eastern Arabophone world more often than by those from the west. As such, it usually performs four roles in structuring information: expressing contrast, emphatic reflexivity, and two degrees of distal deixis. While modern Arab writers appear to use it demonstratively more often than did those of medieval and classical Arabic, that earlier writers were using it suggests that its demonstrative property is an inherent feature. This is confirmed by comparing object markers in other Semitic languages, which may function as demonstratives in Hebrew and Aramaic, reflexives in Syriac, and in remote deixis in Amharic.

In: Arabica

Abstract

Current potters in Manaledi village in the Tswapong Hills of Botswana aver that they and their ancestors for five generations have made pottery exclusively with clay from nearby sources. We begin with an examination of Manaledi and its clay mine to uncover current dialectics between village, landscape, clay, potters, and ancestors. Archaeological sherds found around the village and clay sources document occupation by makers of Early Iron Age (ca. AD 500-750), Middle Iron Age (ca. AD 750-1050), Late Iron Age (ca. AD 1420-1800), and 18th-20th century wares related to current Manaledi pottery. The proximity of archaeological deposits, clay sources, and village made it possible to conduct simultaneously what might otherwise be considered three separate projects. As a consequence, we are able to document that Manaledi clays have been used to make pottery for some 1500 years and to consider long-standing constraints on potting this implies.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

Over the last 30 years Wilmsen and Denbow have recovered and studied pottery from 28 sites in Botswana dated between ca cal AD 200 and AD 1885. Some sherds in several of these assemblages appear, on stylistic evidence, to have been made in other sub-regions of Botswana than where they were found. These inferences are confirmed in this paper by use of an independent archaeometric technique, optical petrography. We are able to demonstrate the transport of pots from the Okavango Delta to Bosutswe in the eastern hardveld, some 400–600 km distant, as early as cal AD 900–1100, and of others over equal distances to the Tsodilo Hills probably before that time. We are also able to demonstrate several shorter itineraries at contemporary and later times in the Tsodilo-Delta-Chobe region as well as in the hardveld. Furthermore, we demonstrate that clays were transported from geological deposits to sites where pots were made from them. We consider some implications of these findings for a deeper appreciation of the movement of peoples and goods at several time periods of the past and present as well as further implications for understanding the participation of the region in the Indian Ocean trade during the 8th–10th centuries.

In: Journal of African Archaeology