Khoisan

Khoisan

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Khoisan is a unifying name for two ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

s of Southern Africa
Southern Africa
Southern Africa is the southernmost region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. Within the region are numerous territories, including the Republic of South Africa ; nowadays, the simpler term South Africa is generally reserved for the country in English.-UN...

, who share physical and putative linguistic characteristics distinct from the Bantu majority of the region. Culturally, the Khoisan are divided into the foraging San
Bushmen
The indigenous people of Southern Africa, whose territory spans most areas of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola, are variously referred to as Bushmen, San, Sho, Barwa, Kung, or Khwe...

 and the pastoral
Pastoralism
Pastoralism or pastoral farming is the branch of agriculture concerned with the raising of livestock. It is animal husbandry: the care, tending and use of animals such as camels, goats, cattle, yaks, llamas, and sheep. It may have a mobile aspect, moving the herds in search of fresh pasture and...

 Khoi
Khoi
Khoi may refer to:*The common name of Siamese Rough Bush, Streblus asper Lour*The Khoikhoi people*One of the Khoe languages*The Khoekhoe language*Khoy, a city in Iran*Khoy County, an administrative subdivision of Iran...

. The San include the original inhabitants of Southern Africa before the southward Bantu migrations from Central and East Africa reached their region, which led to Bantu farmers replacing the Khoi and San as the predominant population. Khoi pastoralists apparently arrived in Southern Africa shortly before the Bantu. Over time, some Khoi abandoned pastoralism and adopted the hunter-gatherer economy of the San, likely due to a drying climate, and are now considered San. Similarly, the Bantu Damara
Damara people
The Damara are an ethnic group who make up 8.5% of Namibia's population...

 later abandoned agriculture and adopted the Khoi economy. Large Khoisan populations remain in several arid areas in the region, notably in the Kalahari Desert
Kalahari Desert
The Kalahari Desert is a large semi-arid sandy savannah in Southern Africa extending , covering much of Botswana and parts of Namibia and South Africa, as semi-desert, with huge tracts of excellent grazing after good rains. The Kalahari supports more animals and plants than a true desert...

.

Terminology


Other terms used to describe the Khoisan people include Bushmen
Bushmen
The indigenous people of Southern Africa, whose territory spans most areas of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola, are variously referred to as Bushmen, San, Sho, Barwa, Kung, or Khwe...

, referring to the San, and Hottentot, referring to the Khoi or Khoe. Khoi derives from the old Nama word for "person", while Khoe is the modern Nama word. "Bushmen" is still being used by some individuals, though considered obsolete by others (the use of "San" is acceptable, despite its origins as a derogatory Khoe term for the Bushmen), while "Hottentot" is generally considered derogatory and is no longer used ("Khoe" should be used instead).

San community representatives declared a preference to be known either by their individual community names (!Xun or ‡Khomani, for example) or collectively as Bushmen, rather than as San or Khoisan. If the Bushmen need to be grouped with the Khoe pastoralist groups, the term Khoe–San is preferred.

History



From the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic
Upper Paleolithic
The Upper Paleolithic is the third and last subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age as it is understood in Europe, Africa and Asia. Very broadly it dates to between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago, roughly coinciding with the appearance of behavioral modernity and before the advent of...

 period, hunting and gathering cultures known as the Sangoan
Sangoan
The Sangoan archaeological industry is the name given by archaeologists to a Palaeolithic tool manufacturing style which may have developed from the earlier Acheulian types . In addition to the Acheulian stone tools, use was also made of bone and antler picks...

 occupied southern Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 in areas where annual rainfall is less than a metre (1000 mm; 40 in), and today's San and Khoi people resemble the ancient Sangoan skeletal remains. These Late Stone Age
Late Stone Age
The Later Stone Age refers to a period in African prehistory. Its beginnings are roughly contemporaneous with the European Upper Paleolithic...

 people in parts of southern Africa were the ancestors of the Khoisan people who inhabited the Kalahari Desert
Kalahari Desert
The Kalahari Desert is a large semi-arid sandy savannah in Southern Africa extending , covering much of Botswana and parts of Namibia and South Africa, as semi-desert, with huge tracts of excellent grazing after good rains. The Kalahari supports more animals and plants than a true desert...

. Likely due to their region's lack of suitable candidates for domestication, the Khoisan did not have farming or domesticated animals until a few hundred years before then, when they adopted the domesticated cattle
Cattle
Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

 and sheep of the Bantu that had spread in advance of the people's actual arrival. The Bantu people, with advanced agriculture and metalworking technology developed in West Africa from at least 2000 BC, outcompeted and intermarried with the Khoisan in the years after contact and became the dominant population of Southeastern Africa before the arrival of the Dutch in 1642.

The evidence of the Khoisan's original presence in South Africa in fact can be seen in the distribution of their languages today, which often show extreme differences in structure and vocabulary despite close proximity, demonstrating a long period of settlement and co-evolution of languages in the same region. In contrast, the languages of Bantu-origin peoples in the region such as the Zulu and Xhosa are all relatively very similar to one another. This suggests a much more recent common ancestry for the first Bantu group that spread and settled across the region. Among their descendants, the Xhosa and Zulu adopted unique Khoisan click consonant and loan words into their respective languages.

After the arrival of the Bantu, the Khoisan and their pastoral or hunter-gatherer ways of life remained predominant west of the Fish River
Great Fish River
The Great Fish River is a river running through the South African province of the Eastern Cape, it originates east of Graaff-Reinet and runs through Cradock, just south of this the Tarka River joins it...

 in South Africa and in deserts throughout their region, where the drier climate precluded the growth of Bantu crops suited for warmer and wetter climates. It took the arrival of Mediterranean crops from Europe in the 17th century for the Bantu farmers, and later white Boer
Boer
Boer is the Dutch and Afrikaans word for farmer, which came to denote the descendants of the Dutch-speaking settlers of the eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 18th century, as well as those who left the Cape Colony during the 19th century to settle in the Orange Free State,...

 farmers, to spread to the rest of the country and begin replacing the Khoisan population. During the colonial era, the Khoisan survived in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

 and Botswana
Botswana
Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana , is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens are referred to as "Batswana" . Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966...

. Today many of the San live in parts of the Kalahari Desert
Kalahari Desert
The Kalahari Desert is a large semi-arid sandy savannah in Southern Africa extending , covering much of Botswana and parts of Namibia and South Africa, as semi-desert, with huge tracts of excellent grazing after good rains. The Kalahari supports more animals and plants than a true desert...

 where they are better able to preserve much of their culture and lifestyle.

Against the traditional interpretation that finds a common origin for the Khoi and San, other evidence has suggested that the ancestors of the Khoi peoples (one subset of the Khoisan) are relatively recent pre-Bantu agricultural immigrants to southern Africa, who abandoned agriculture as the climate dried and either joined the San as hunter-gatherers or retained pastoralism to become the Khoikhoi.

Genetic studies


In the 1990s, genomic studies of different peoples around the world found that the Y chromosome
Y chromosome
The Y chromosome is one of the two sex-determining chromosomes in most mammals, including humans. In mammals, it contains the gene SRY, which triggers testis development if present. The human Y chromosome is composed of about 60 million base pairs...

 of Khoisan men (using samples drawn from several San tribes) share certain patterns of polymorphisms
Polymorphism (biology)
Polymorphism in biology occurs when two or more clearly different phenotypes exist in the same population of a species — in other words, the occurrence of more than one form or morph...

 that are distinct from the genomes of all other populations. As the Y chromosome is highly conserved from generation to generation, this type of DNA testing is used by geneticists to determine when different subgroups separated from one another and hence their last common ancestry. The authors of these studies suggested that the Khoisan (actually the San) may have been one of the first populations to differentiate from the most recent common paternal ancestor
Most recent common ancestor
In genetics, the most recent common ancestor of any set of organisms is the most recent individual from which all organisms in the group are directly descended...

 of all extant humans, the so-called Y-chromosomal Adam
Y-chromosomal Adam
In human genetics, Y-chromosomal Adam is the theoretical most recent common ancestor from whom all living people are descended patrilineally . Many studies report that Y-chromosomal Adam lived as early as around 142,000 years ago and possibly as recently as 60,000 years ago...

 by patrilineal descent, estimated to have lived 60,000 to 90,000 years ago. The authors also note that their results should be interpreted as only finding that the Khoisan "preserve ancient lineages", and not that they "stopped evolving" or are an "ancient group", since subsequent changes in their population are in parallel and similar to those of all other human populations.

Various Y-chromosome studies since confirmed that the Khoisan (or Khoe–San) carry some of the most divergent (oldest) Y-chromosome haplogroups. These haplogroups are specific sub-groups of haplogroups A and B, the two earliest branches on the human Y-chromosome tree.

Similar to findings from Y-Chromosome studies, mitochondrial DNA studies also showed evidence that the Khoe–San people carry high frequencies of the earliest haplogroup branches in the human mitochondrial DNA tree. The most divergent (oldest) mitochondrial haplogroup, L0
Haplogroup L0 (mtDNA)
-Distribution:It is found most commonly in the Sub-Saharan Africa. It reaches its highest frequency in the Khoisan people at 73%. Some of the higher frequencies are: Namibia 79%, South Africa 83% and Botswana 100%....

d, have been identified at its highest frequencies in the southern African Khoe and San groups.

Physical appearance



Physically the Khoisan, with their short frames (149–163 cm/4'9-5'4;), copper brown skin, tightly coiled "peppercorn" hair, high cheekbones, and epicanthic eye folds are quite distinct from the darker-skinned peoples who constitute the majority of Africa's population, though both population are usually dolichocephalic (Huxley
Thomas Huxley
Thomas Henry Huxley PC FRS was an English biologist, known as "Darwin's Bulldog" for his advocacy of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution....

, 1870). They have moderately long legs and longer abdominal muscles, traits that sharply distinguish them from surrounding Pygmy
Pygmy
Pygmy is a term used for various ethnic groups worldwide whose average height is unusually short; anthropologists define pygmy as any group whose adult men grow to less than 150 cm in average height. A member of a slightly taller group is termed "pygmoid." The best known pygmies are the Aka,...

 and Bantu populations having muscles with short bellies and long tendons (Coon 1965). In past ethnography, the Khoisan have been referred to as the Capoid
Capoid
The Capoid race is a historical racial category proposed in 1962 by anthropologist Carleton S. Coon and named after the Cape of Good Hope; these people had formerly been regarded as a sub-type of the historical racial category Negroid....

 race because they can be visually distinguished from the Congoid Africans of Bantu origin.

In the 19th century, a distinguishing feature of Khoisan women was considered to be their tendency for steatopygia
Steatopygia
Steatopygia is a high degree of fat accumulation in and around the buttocks. The deposit of fat is not confined to the gluteal regions, but extends to the outside and front of the thighs, forming a thick layer reaching sometimes to the knee.- History :...

. This belief contributed greatly to the European fascination with the so-called Hottentot Venus.

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