Molecular anthropological perspectives on the Kalahari Basin area

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This paper discusses the insights into Khoisan prehistory obtained from molecular anthropological data. It focuses on two major questions at the heart of ongoing interdisciplinary research into the history of the Kalahari Basin area: To which extent can the linguistic similarities among the three Khoisan language families be explained by areal convergence rather than by shared inheritance from a common ancestor? Is there any genetic evidence in favour of the hypothesis that the Khoe-Kwadi languages were brought to southern Africa by a pre-Bantu pastoralist immigration? The currently available data show clear evidence for intense contact and language shift in the Kalahari Basin area involving both Khoisan and Bantu-speaking groups. Furthermore, there is tentative evidence for a connection of the Khoe-speaking populations, and especially the Khwe, with East African pastoralists. The genetic data thus underline the importance of conducting detailed investigations of contact-induced changes and substratum effects in the Khoisan languages.


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