Google Earth, GIS and stone-walled structures in southern Gauteng, South Africa

Abstract : In South Africa, air photos were used in the 1960s and 1970s to plot distribution maps of pre-colonial stone-walled structures in order to study the peopling of this landscape. Different architectural styles of stone-walled structures were attributed to different cultures, who shared a mixed agricultural and pastoralist economic base and a cattle centered world-view. New technologies such as Google Earth satellite imagery as well as Geographic Information System software justify revisiting these structures as they facilitate more complex analyses of larger databases. The spatial analysis of remotely sensed settlement data from the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve near Johannesburg shows significant changes in settlement patterns from dispersed homesteads to nucleated towns during the last two or three centuries before colonial times. These changes echo similar patterns reported in the neighboring North West Province, where they have been interpreted as a sequence of evolution in social, political and economic complexity. In the Suikerbosrand reserve climate change, conflict and other factors may have helped bring about the observed changes in settlement patterns.
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Xavier Rodier, Karim Sadr. Google Earth, GIS and stone-walled structures in southern Gauteng, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science, Elsevier, 2012, 39 (4), pp.1034-1042. ⟨10.1016/j.jas.2011.11.024⟩. ⟨halshs-00956261⟩



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