Ethnobotanical research at Klasies River linking past, present, and future.
Keywords:Keywords, useful plants, medicinal plants, archaeobotany, Khoi and San, indigenous knowledge. Sleutelwoorde, nuttige plante, medisinale plante, argeobotanies, Khoe en San, traditionelekennis
Background: Klasies River is a prominent archaeological site on the South African southern Cape coast, with a unique and continuous occupation spanning the Middle and Late Pleistocene into the Holocene. Ethnobotanical research was undertaken with the objective of enabling a deeper understanding and contextualisation of the palaeo-ethnobotanical finds retrieved during ongoing excavation.
Methods: Research into ethnobotanical usage enables extrapolation of the uses to which archaeobotanicals may have been put. Semi-structured interviews and walks in the veld with six local participants, selected for their knowledge of the local plants, were conducted. An interdisciplinary focus, with a pragmatic and abductive grounded theory approach was used.
Results: Of the Klasies taxa reported in use today by participants 84% are confirmed by other published research into Khoi and San indigenous plant knowledge in the three Cape Provinces and 42% of these useful taxa are reported as finds in published archaeological research in the Cape Provinces, indicating ongoing usage from past to present.
Conclusions: Our research indicates the need for thorough and systematic collection of ethnobotanical data (particularly from Khoi and San descendants), which is under-studied in the South African context. We consider that environment and behaviour of the past, present and future is not only shaped by climate, but by adaptive human-plant interactions through intergenerational and inter-cultural learning.
Keywords: Useful plants; medicinal plants; archaeobotany; Khoi and San; indigenous knowledge;
How to Cite
All articles are copyrighted by the first author and are published online by license from the first author. Articles are intended for free public distribution and discussion without charge. Accuracy of the content is the responsibility of the authors.