Ikhanda : an ethno-historical archaeological investigation of Nguni military homesteads between the Mfolozi and Tugela Rivers, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa

by Renier Hendrik Van der Merwe

Institution: University of Pretoria
Year: 2015
Keywords: Archaeology; Ikhanda; Amabatho; Nguni; Settlement Patterns; Central Cattle Pattern (CCP); UCTD
Record ID: 1460263
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2263/43761


The 19th century saw great changes occurring in the political organisation as well as the demographical distribution of the people living within southern Africa. These changes would lead to the creation of the ikhanda (plural amakhanda) settlement form which was unique in both its organisation and demographic composition. In recent years there has been a renewed interest in the study of settlements within southern Africa, with the main settlement model, the Central Cattle Pattern (CCP) coming under continued criticism. The aim of this study was to create a structural model for the organisation of an ikhanda settlement by drawing from ethnographic, historical and archaeological sources. This model was then compared with homesteads (imizi) within Kwa-Zulu Natal in order to determine whether an ikhanda can be distinguished from an umuzi, archaeologically. This study identified a number of differences which would potentially enable archaeologists to distinguish between amakhanda and other settlements. This model indicated that an ikhanda was organised into three structural sections namely the central enclosure, regimental housing and isigodlo; each of which was used for very specific purposes. Additionally, this study was able to identify and explain the functionality of previously unexplained features observed in the original excavations at uMgungundlovu. Despite sharing many similarities with settlements constructed according to the CCP model, the ikhanda’s unique organisation and function illustrate the limitations of using the CCP model as an umbrella term for all southern African settlements. The simultaneous existence of CCP-based imizi alongside amakhanda undermines the static nature that southern African settlements are believed to have had; indicating that superficial physical appearances may actually hide significant social, demographic and structural differences.