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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The ancient earthworks of western Uganda: capital sites of a Cwezi empire?
Author:Robertshaw, PeterISNI
Periodical:Uganda Journal (ISSN 0041-574X)
Notes:biblio. refs., maps
Geographic terms:Uganda
East Africa
Bunyoro-Kitara polity
History, Archaeology
Historic sites
Archaeological sites
External link:https://www.ajol.info/index.php/uj/article/view/23001
Abstract:The author examines the ancient earthworks of western Uganda, the best known being the system of ditches on the south bank of the Katonga River at Bigo. Radiocarbon and luminescence dates obtained from Munsa and Kibengo, which, apart from Bigo, contain the two most extensive systems of ditches, indicate that these ditches originally were excavated probably during the 15th or 16th centuries AD. The ditches at Bigo may be the same age or about a century older. The author looks at the question of whether the earthworks were the capitals of one or more chiefdoms or kingdoms, and who built them. It has often been suggested that the earthworks were built by the Bacwezi, a group of people whose very existence has been questioned. The most widely accepted interpretation within Uganda is that the Bacwezi were leaders of the Cwezi dynasty, a dynasty based in western Uganda, in the area called Kitara, which ruled over a substantial, if short-lived, empire. Basing himself on archaeological evidence, the author of the present paper concludes that the earthworks were not built by the Cwezi and cannot be considered as evidence to support the hypothesis of an ancient Cwezi kingdom or empire. He proposes that Bigo, Munsa and Kibengo were the capitals of three contemporary polities of the 15th and 16th centuries. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]