The first farmers in Southern Africa

Pottery, division of labour,trade, medicine and healing, hunting

Pottery

Pottery production was also a very important feature of Iron Age society. The Iron  Age women were skilled potters. Pots were used for cooking and storing food.  They were also probably used in religious ceremonies. 

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Division of labour

Women were responsible for most of the agricultural labour like planting the fields, and harvesting the crops. They would also gather food and do all the cooking.

Lydenburg Head

One set of pottery, known as the ‘Lydenburg heads,’ named after the site at which where it was discovered, consist  of seven pieces of pottery. Six of the heads had human-like features, the seventh is of some kind of animal. It is believed that these were used during the  initiation ritual.

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Trade

Some farmers became very wealthy as they had many cattle and had so much of food stored that they could trade with people from other countries chiefdoms.

Evidence also indicates to us that smiths created objects of iron and copper for practical and decorative purposes – both for local use and for trade.

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Medicine and healing

Medicine and healing in the African society was linked to the spirit world of the ancestral worship. This means that believed that the spirits of their dead relatives dead relatives lived went on to a spiritual world and they had power over this world.

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Hunting

Hunting was an important part of the lives of the men in the farming society. It provided food and clothing.

Note to teachers: SAHO is still developing content for this section