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bones have been buried at this particular spot.

earthed during consequent work at the site, the most ex citing discoveries have been made in the past few months by Len van Schalkwyk and Haskel Greenfield, who have been assisted by Ms Tina Jongsman, also of the University of Manitoba, and staff of the KwaZulu Monuments Council.

The bones don't look like any thing out of the ordinary - except for the fact that they are at least 1200 years old. Len van Schalk vyyk of the KwaZulu Monuments Council is sure the bones are associated with primecuts ofbeef.

Dr Haskel Greenfield, an Asso ciate Professor from the Uni-

One particularly exciting as pect of Ndondondwane IS the

An infant burial exposed in a pit in a residential area of the Ndondondwane Early Iron Age village.

'But yes,' agrees Haskel, these were very deliberately buried in a part of the village which is usu ally associated with women.

'Where you have layers and layers of archaeological history piled on top of each other, its often ve ry difficult to tease apart the various clues. But at this village, all the clues are con tained in a single layer'.

And a fire in about 750 AD has helped to preserve the hut floor of the village inyanga (traditional healer). such an old floor would be Virtually impos sible to discern, but the intense heat caused the dung and ter mite floor mixture to bake al

most rock-solid.

The recent discoveries include the remains of a new-born infant - buried upside down in a clay pot. Other finds have provided evidence of iron-smelting, ivory-carving, a cattle byre, grain storage bins and under ground pits, highly-decorated pottery, grinding stones and clay dolls for fertility rites.

'We have a cultural record which dates back to more than 1200 years ago. We are finding that people were living in very struc tured, and settled communities with advanced iron-smelting techniques. All the evidence pointsto quite a complex society.'

Ultimately, it is hoped that the site will be declared the first Early Iron Age monument in KwaZulu-Natal.

versity of Manitoba in Canada, peers into the hole for a closer look. That one is from the femur... that one is part of the radius. It

looks like an old beast - signs of arthritic degeneration.'

suggestion that it was occu pied for only three generations or so, representing, essentially, one phase ofthe Early Iron Age In

In traditional African society, the best cuts of meat are nor mally reserved for the men.

For centuries the village was buried under several centimetres of soil- until about 20 years ago, when a farmer's plough exposed fragments of pottery which caught the eye of Campbell Willmore, owner of the nearby Middledrift trading store.

Mr Willmore took the pottery shards to Tim Maggs, who recognised their similarity to the well-known Lydenburg head masks. Although several interesting artefacts were un-

The burnt hut floor (6 m diameter) exposed at Ndondondwane.

KwaZulu-Natal. This makes it easier for archaeologists to

unscramble the puzzles, com- pared with other sites occu- . pied for prolonged periods.

*-Based on the account by Tony Camie ofthe NatalMercury, 11 & 14 August 1995

Vol12 (3) Nov 1995


The Digging Stick

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