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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The age and function of the ancient earthworks of western Uganda
Author:Robertshaw, PeterISNI
Periodical:Uganda Journal (ISSN 0041-574X)
Notes:biblio. refs., maps
Geographic terms:Uganda
East Africa
History, Archaeology
Archaeological sites
Historic sites
External link:https://www.ajol.info/index.php/uj/article/view/23050
Abstract:The ancient earthworks of western Uganda, which number about fifteen sites, are characterized primarily by ditches up to four meters deep and about a meter wide at the bottom, sloping outwards to several meters wide at the top. The three large sites, Bigo, Munsa and Kibengo, have seen the lion's share of archaeological investigation. Although statistical error and the range of potential problems encountered in selecting samples for dating analysis imposes some uncertainty, it may be concluded that the earthworks at both Munsa and Kibengo were probably constructed in the 15th and 16th centuries AD. Those at Bigo may be contemporary or a century or so older. What was the function of the earthworks? During the colonial period in Uganda, it was often assumed that these sites were forts. The present author, however, challenges this hypothesis. He argues that the Ugandan earthworks probably had several overlapping functions: they protected crops from elephants, as well as rulers from attack; they were centres for the redistribution of trade goods, including prestige items; they demonstrated the organizational prowess of the rulers; and they possessed symbolic content, signifying the power both of what lay within the earthworks and of the people who undertook activities there, presumably on behalf of the wider community. Bibliogr., notes, ref.