Ancestral Pharmacopeias: A Paleoethnobotanical Assessment of Plant Use in the Western Free State, South Africa




Thornton-Barnett, Senna R.

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Excavations of Early Later Stone Age sites at Erfkroon in the Western Free State, South Africa, yielded several partial grinding stones, possibly indicating an increase in the reliance on plant resources and signifying the economic, technological, and social shift from the Middle Stone Age to Later Stone Age. From October to December of 2011, I carried out an ethnobotanical study of economically important native plants used by modern Setswana and Basotho inhabitants of the Western Free State, South Africa. I interviewed traditional healers and plant sellers in the vicinity of Erfkroon at Ikgomotseng, Bloemfontein, near the former Basotho homeland at Phutaditjhaba and the Basotho Cultural Village. Extant plant knowledge in this region is overwhelmingly Basotho in origin and my investigation of the plants addressed in this study provide one of the only studies on modern plant use in the Free State and may help decode the composition of prehistoric human diets and plant usage patterns in Southern Africa and how they relate to Stone Age subsistence strategies.



South Africa, Free State, Archaeobotany, Ethnobotany, Grinding stones, Medicinal plants


Thornton-Barnett, S. R. (2013). Ancestral pharmacopeias: A paleoethnobotanical assessment of plant use in the Western Free State, South Africa</i> (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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