Archives of Times Past: Conversations about South Africa’s Deep History explores particular sources of evidence on southern Africa’s time before the colonial era. It gathers recent ideas about archives and archiving from scholars in southern Africa and elsewhere, focusing on the question: ‘How do we know, or think we know, what happened in the times before European colonialism?’
Historians who specialise in researching early history have learnt to use a wide range of materials from the past as source materials. What are these materials? Where can we find them? Who made them? When? Why? What are the problems with using them? The essays by well-known historians, archaeologists and researchers engage these questions from a range of perspectives and in illuminating ways. Written from personal experience, they capture how these experts encountered their archives of knowledge beyond the textbook.
The book aims to make us think critically about where ideas about the time before the colonial era originate. It encourages us to think about why people in South Africa often refer to this ‘deep history’ when arguing about public affairs in the present.
The essays are written at a time when public discussion about the history of southern Africa before the colonial era is taking place more openly than at any other time in the last hundred years. They will appeal to students, academics, educationists, teachers, archivists, and heritage, museum practitioners and the general public.