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displaced with the unification of proto-Sotho, Mashona and

that they initially possessed only the thin-tailed variety.








1 _. . .2.5 = = : : : : : : . 1 5 °




Fat-tailed sheep .A Thin-tailed sheep •

This would seem to explain the distribution of depictions of th In-tai/ed and fat-tailed sheep in the far Northern Province. But new evidence leads us to believe that the scenario is likely to be much more complex than it might in itially appear. No osteological differences


BARNARD,A. 1992. Huntersand herders of southern Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge Uni versity Press.

BOSHIER, A. 1972. A note on the Masetedi, South African Journal of Science 68:206- 208.

COOKE, C.K. 1969. Rock art of southern Africa. Cape Town: Books of Africa.

EHRET, C. 1982. The first spread of food production to southern Africa. In: Ehret, C.






archaeological reconstruction

and linguistic of African his



D i s t r i b u t i o n o f s h e e p p a i n t i n g s i n t h e N o r t h e r n f o u n d b e t w e e n t h e t w o v a r i e - Province South Africa,

tory. Berkley: University California Press.


V h a n g o n a b y t h e S i n g o u n d e r t h e l e a d e r s h i p o f T h o h o y a n d o u s o m e 3 0 0 y e a r s a g o . R e c o r d s k t b l E t I

ep lers

y e a r y u r o p e a n r a v e - a n d h u n t e r s d o n o t m e n -

ties of sheep, so identification of one vari

e t y a s o p p o s e d t o t h e o t h e r f r o m f a u n a l s a m p l e s r e c o v e r e d f r o m c o n

VOIGT, E.A. & PLUG, I. 1984. Happy Rest: the earliest Iron Age fauna from the Sout pansberg. South African Jour nal of Science 80:221-227.

tion the presence of San groups in the Soutpansberg.lt is thus reasonable to as- sume that depictions of thin- tailed sheep In the western Soutpansberg date to the pre-pioneer period and prob- abIy before Venda unification.

texts is impossi le at this

stage.lna Plug informs us DNA samples from sheep popula-

t i o n s h a r d e b e i n g t h r e - t s e a r c e a n I a p p e a r s a ' d f t t I d h a - a l e s e e , p th th b In-an 0 were present in southem Africa for roughly the last 2000 years.

WALKER, N. 1991, Rock paintings of sheep in Bot swana. In: PWier, S-A.,

S w a r t z B K & ' 1 AR 1 ' . . I c o x , . . ( e d s ) R o c k a r t : t h e w a y a h e a d . SARARA Conference Pro- ceedin s: 54-60.

Although Early Iron Age mi gration routes are thought to have traversed areas of the Limpopo Valley, to date no such settlements have been found there. Early Iron Age sites, such as Happy Rest and Klein Afrika, are known from the Sout pansberg, and research into the Early Iron Age is continuing.

It is known that Early Iron Age migration brought with it cfo mestic sheep; ovid remains were identified by Liz Voigt and Ina Plug amongst the bones from Happy Rest in the western Soutpansberg, dating from AD 350. It IS possib Ie that early Bantu speaking peoples obtained fat-tailed sheep through con tact with the Khoekhoe but

  • *

    An earlierversion





peared in

Die Rooi




1995), Newsletter of the Soutpans be rg Rock Art Conservation Group. A more detailed account, which assesses also the meanings


these images,


in preparation

for publication elsewhere.

Soutpansberg Rock Art Conser vation Group P.O. Box 168 Louis Trichardt 0920

Thin-tailed sheep with superimposed human figures, Goro IT Shelter, Soutpansberg.

The Digging Stick


Vol 12 (3) Nov 1995

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