A CLASH OF IDEOLOGIES: ZIMBABWEAN ARCHAEOLOGY AT THE FRINGE

of 13
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Information Report
Category:

Medicine, Science & Technology

Published:

Views: 17 | Pages: 13

Extension: PDF | Download: 0

Share
Description
The debate regarding the origins and development of the Zimbabwe Culture dramatically shaped archaeological practice in southern Africa. Like many fringe archaeologies, the debates have advocated a state of worldwide archaeological, cultural and
Transcript
  From Archaeology to Archaeologies: The ‘Other’ Past Edited by Anna Simandiraki-GrimshawEleni Stefanou BAR International Series 24092012  Published byArchaeopress Publishers of Brish Archaeological Reports Gordon House 276 Banbury Road Oxford OX2 7ED England bar@archaeopress.comwww.archaeopress.com BAR S2409 From Archaeology to Archaeologies: The ‘Other’ Past © Archaeopress and the individual authors 2012ISBN 978 1 4073 1007 7 Cover Photograph: Tera Prui (chapter 3, Fig.03) Printed in England by 4edge, HockleyAll BAR tles are available from:Hadrian Books Ltd122 Banbury Road OxfordOX2 7BP England www.hadrianbooks.co.uk The current BAR catalogue with details of all tles in print, prices and means of payment is available free from Hadrian Books or may be downloaded from www.archaeopress.com  SIMANDIRAKI-GRIMSHAW    &   STEFANOU    (eds.):    FROM     ARCHAEOLOGY    TO    ARCHAEOLOGIES:   THE    „OTHER‟     PAST    45 A CLASH OF IDEOLOGIES: ZIMBABWEAN ARCHAEOLOGY AT THE FRINGE Paul Hubbard, Robert S. Burrett Abstract The debate regarding the srcins and development of the Zimbabwe Culture dramatically shaped archaeological  practice in southern Africa. Like many fringe archaeologies, the debates have advocated a state of worldwide archaeological, cultural and governmental conspiracy to keep the ‗ truth ‘  hidden. The flimsiest of ‗ evidence ‘  has been invoked to deny the fact that the ruins are the product of an indigenous African society. Few of the authors have been professional archaeologists or historians, but all have challenged professional findings and conclusions. This paper will identify the main actors, their ideas and their intended audience. The  proponents identify themselves through established national symbols, drawn from a global context, that mean different things to different people. The agendas  behind the representation and edification of some pasts and not others will be explored in a southern African context. Finally the relevance of such a debate to current archaeological practice in Zimbabwe will be evaluated. Keywords : Great Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Controversy, race  Finally to those others, too many to enumerate, who helped us in sundry ways, I tender our thanks, not least among them those unknown correspondents of lively imagination, whose letters of advice now lie filed under the heading INSANE (Caton-Thompson 1931,viii)   This… is typical of the propaganda of this school of thought which, while deficient of real scientific  scholarship, calls itself scientific and denounces its opponents as persons without scientific qualifications (Gayre 1972, 220) Introduction Zimbabwe has one of the oldest traditions of archaeological research in sub-Saharan Africa, no doubt spurred on by the presence of hundreds of apparently enigmatic stone-built structures located within its  borders. These structures, known locally as madzimbahwe , have fired the imagination of generations of visitors and researchers alike, encouraging attempts to discover the srcins, development and demise of the culture behind their creation. Unfortunately this debate, at times heated and intense, has become one of the  parables of world archaeology about the use and abuse of the past in order to justify certain political, social and ethnic stances. In the modern era, this discussion has  become strictly polarised between mainstream archaeologists on the one hand, and on the other a so-called popular ‗ fringe ‘ . Proponents of either side remain antagonistic and effectively incommunicative. At the onset it is important to stress that as archaeologists, we are convinced of the autochthonous srcin of the Zimbabwe Culture. In this paper, we seek to understand the factors that have conditioned interpretations and fostered the inharmonious relations  between academic practitioners and those in the broader  public sphere with their own theories. An understanding of this may go some way toward building bridges and formulating a genuine public archaeology, something more than the well-meaning, but in our local case rarely witnessed, practical intersection of heritage management and academic discourse. How to define fringe? Zimbabwean Perspectives One could begin, rather facetiously, by stating that technically archaeology is a fringe discipline in Africa, introduced as an integral part of the colonial process (cf. Robertshaw 1990; Shepherd 2002). In Africa,  particularly in Zimbabwe, archaeology remains a largely academic subject, sequestered in the secure precincts of universities and museums, but viewed with great suspicion by the general public, for whom it purports to work (Pwiti 1996). We could then argue that to the  people of Zimbabwe archaeology is at the ‗ fringe ‘  of their daily lives, educational experiences and entertainments. Recent developments in the discipline in southern Africa are attempting to transform the subject into a more relevant, engaging and holistic discipline (e.g. Chirikure and Pwiti 2008), although there is still a long way to go; statements of ‗  public archaeology ‘  are often more rhetoric than real engagement. Archaeology, defined here as the study of the human past through analysis and interpretation of material culture, is a diverse discipline. This allows a multitude of different viewpoints and specialisations to flourish, although there is usually a commonality of approach grounded in the srcins of the discipline (Bahn 1996), as well as in shared theory and practice. We refer to this as ‗mainstream‘ archaeology. Most fring e or alternative archaeologies stress this commonality, placing themselves on, or being pushed to, the boundaries of what is seen as ‗acceptable academic practice‘. Who defines what is acceptable (or accepted) is another matter. In Zimbabwe, archaeologists have set the rules,  placing those not supportive of their ideas, data and theories into the category of the ‗other‘ (e.g. Caton -Thompson 1931; Garlake 1973, 1982a; Randall-MacIver 1906b; Summers 1965).  SIMANDIRAKI-GRIMSHAW    &   STEFANOU    (eds.):    FROM     ARCHAEOLOGY    TO    ARCHAEOLOGIES:   THE    „OTHER‟     PAST    46 Figure 5 1 : Map of Zimbabwe, indicating the location of the site of Great Zimbabwe. Map by the authors. We argue that the very concept of the fringe in Zimbabwean archaeology has itself changed considerably over the years, alternating between various camps anchored on their beliefs about the Zimbabwe Culture. This mirrors who controls and is the loudest in the debate, reflecting in turn changing extra-archaeological socio-political dominance. Colonisation, liberation politics, and nationalism have all played a  prominent role in the changing entity that is archaeology and its fringe. In more recent times, most archaeologists would argue that the fringe has become easier to define (and thus condemn), given the racial polarisation of the discussion on Great Zimbabwe and its associated sites. We argue that while this may be true, a simple reactionary denunciation of the fringe and a refusal by academics to engage in public debate with alternative views (usually simply ignoring them), has the unwanted consequences of alienating a large portion of our audience (Holtorf 2005) thus exacerbating the gap. This has, in part, allowed for the continued promulgation and acceptance of inaccurate ideas about the history of Zimbabwe, by successive governments and their supporters. It also misses the opportunity of self-reflection within the discipline. Mere dismissal of ‗ the other, ‘  the fringe, has had the effect of obscuring and neutralising the nuances of other people‘s beliefs and our understanding of the construction and practice of archaeology in the country, as well as the dissemination (or lack thereof) of its results. The Zimbabwe Culture in Zimbabwean Historiography The Zimbabwe Tradition as a whole falls within the  period commonly defined as the Iron Age, an era when the new technologies of semi-permanent residence, agro- pastoralism and metal working became dominant in the subcontinent, starting around 2000 years ago (Huffman  SIMANDIRAKI-GRIMSHAW    &   STEFANOU    (eds.):    FROM     ARCHAEOLOGY    TO    ARCHAEOLOGIES:   THE    „OTHER‟     PAST    47 2007). The Zimbabwe Tradition is associated with the development of socio-cultural complexity and state formation in southern Africa. Its more prominent elite sites consist of stone-built enclosures occurring in a variety of sizes and styles, dating from the 12th to the 18th centuries CE. Over 200 such sites are known in southern Africa and of these Great Zimbabwe is the largest and most impressive. Successive studies have shown that the walls were a highly visible symbol of  power and prestige for the ruling elite who lived behind them (cf. Huffman 1996; Pikirayi 2001). Great Zimbabwe has effectively dominated the country‘s archaeological literature. A recent bibliography of Zimbabwean archaeology (Hubbard 2007b) revealed that of the 1920 publications on the Iron Age of Zimbabwe, 468 were on the site of Great Zimbabwe alone, compared to 272 on all the other ruins combined. The basis for this d ominance in the country‘s historiography revolves entirely around the debate and discussion on the srcins, date and function of this single site; a phenomenon often referred to as the Zimbabwe Controversy (Chanaiwa 1973). Succinctly, the debate pits those who perceive great antiquity and exotic srcin against those who  believe in a local derivation and a comparatively recent date (cf. M. Hall 1984; 1990; Kuklick 1991; Mahachi and Ndoro 1997; Summers 1965). The latter is today defined as mainstream archaeology but this has not always been the case. Genesis: discovery and myth-making about the Zimbabwe Culture From their ‗ discovery ‘  in 1871 by the German explorer Karl Mauch (Burke 1969; the ruins of course were well-known to the local people) the ruins of Great Zimbabwe have captured the imagination of various writers, each espousing their own opinions. Mauch‘s publications elicited immediate global interest given his claim to have found the palace of the mythical Queen of Sheba, immortalised in the Bible as the consort of King Solomon. He was not the first to make this claim. He was drawing on earlier Arabic and Portuguese legends about the interior and was influenced by several well-read missionaries, primarily Reverend A. Merensky of the Berlin Missionary Society (Burke 1969; Burrett 2008; Huffman 1976 ). Mauch‘s ideas were not widely accepted by the academic establishment, yet they gained immediate and widespread popular acceptance due to skilful manipulation of the press by his sponsor, German nationalist Dr A. Petermann (Barnard 1971; Burrett 2008). The varied reactions to Mauch‘s reports triggered the current divided attitudes and speculative ideas about the site‘s history.  In 1891 the Middle Eastern antiquarian Theodore Bent arrived at Great Zimbabwe, tasked by British empire- builder Cecil John Rhodes to ascertain the identity of the  builders and the age of the structures. Although he began his research with preconceived ideas about a foreign influence, Bent‘s initial investigations convinced him that everything was of local srcin (Braddock 1999, 39; Garlake 1973, 66). What later changed his mind (and quite possibly the course of Zimbabwean archaeology) was his examination of the soapstone Zimbabwe Birds that, to his mind resembled Phoenician sculptures rather than anything African (Bent 1896, 180-191). The influence of his sponsor can also not be discounted since Rhodes was known to prefer a foreign srcin for the ruins (Brown-Lowe 2003). Bent narrowly selected a variety of artefacts and attributes from the site and, through superficial comparison to apparently ‗ similar  ‘  items from the Classical World, concluded that the culture was Egypto-Arabian with a distinct Phoenician influence (Bent 1896). A significant portion of the white settler community haile d Bent‘s conclusions. He listened to local knowledge and heeded racially-motivated settler opinion in setting out his final conclusions. This work is still one of the most significant published on Great Zimbabwe, not only for the large amount of primary data it contains,  but because it provided the very basis on which almost all of the subsequent fringe writers rest their assumptions (e.g. Brown-Lowe 2003; Bruwer 1965; R. Hall 1905, 1909; Hall and Neal 1904; Willoughby 1893). Although now defined as fringe, in his time Bent‘s conclusions were mainstream, given the colonial mentality that dominated the discipline and the fact that he was a ‗  professional ‘ . The first curator of Great Zimbabwe, journalist Richard  N. Hall, undertook the next major excavations. He was employed by Rhodes largely because of his co-authored  book on the numerous ruins of the country, a body of data collected by treasure hunters operating under the auspices of the Rhodesia Ancient Ruins Ltd (Hall and  Neal 1904 ). Hall‘s duty as curator was to ensure the  preservation of the buildings but he went further by removing not only vegetation, fallen stones and spoil heaps, but a large proportion of stratified archaeological deposits to the detriment of subsequent archaeological studies (Garlake 1973, 72-73). Although Hall was removed from office in 1904, his later publications  played a significant part in promoting and popularising the myth that Great Zimbabwe was the product of a foreign civilisation (Hall 1905; 1909). He was a popular figure who challenged the ‗  professionals ‘ , thus comprehensively defining the divide between fringe and mainstream. Academics united: the controversy takes shape It was the heated debate between Richard Hall and a British archaeologist, David Randall-MacIver that initiated the ‗ Zimbabwe Controversy ‘  (Summers 1971, 230). The British Association for the Advancement of Science and the Rhodes Trust sent Randall-MacIver to Rhodesia to investigate the stone ruins of the country and  prepare a report for the 1905 meeting of the Association (Randall- MacIver 1906b). ‗As the first trained archaeologist to visit the ruins, Randall-MacIver came to    Hubbard & Burrett: A Clash Of Ideologies: Zimbabwean Archaeology At The Fringe
Recommended
View more...
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks
SAVE OUR EARTH

We need your sign to support Project to invent "SMART AND CONTROLLABLE REFLECTIVE BALLOONS" to cover the Sun and Save Our Earth.

More details...

Sign Now!

We are very appreciated for your Prompt Action!

x