Talk by Chrissie Sievers on Saturday, February 15th at 10:30 am at the KwaZulu-Natal Museum, 237 Jabu Ndlovu Street, Pietermaritzburg

Arcsoc Chrissie

Chrissie Sievers lectures in Archaeobotany at Wits University. Her special interest is in identifying the when, how and what of plant use in antiquity. In addition to regular archaeological fieldwork, she devises various experiments to determine how plant remains became incorporated in archaeological deposits, and how they might have been affected by later occupations of archaeological sites.

Although starchy geophytes (roots, tubers, rhizomes) are seldom preserved archaeologically, at Border Cave they have been excavated from ashy layers at least 170 000 years old. By comparing the external shape and the internal vascular structure of the ancient remains with many modern geophytes, we were able to identify the Border Cave rhizomes as belonging to the genus Hypoxis (star flower). They are probably Hypoxis angustifolia, which are small white-fleshed edible geophytes widely distributed in southern Africa and beyond, and would have provided a food staple. Their presence at Border Cave also tells us about the social behaviour of our species, Homo sapiens, in the Middle Stone Age.

powered by social2s

The latest volume of SA Humanities interdisciplinary journal, produced by the KwaZulu-Natal Museum, is now available online. Access to the online and printed editions is via subscription or the electronic version can be accessed through one of several global repositories. These repositories are SABINET, EBSCO and PROQUEST.

Volume 32 includes nine peer-reviewed papers covering diverse topics including Mapungubwe, KwaZulu-Natal Iron Age burials, Thomas Baines, a Later Stone Age site in Lesotho, Paul-Lenert Breutz, Wilton scrapers, exhibiting apartheid, lions in San beliefs, and ethnoarchaeological fieldwork in Zimbabwe.

The printed version of the journal will be available at the end of the first quarter of 2020. Southern African Humanities is rated as being in the top quartile of global archaeology journals by Scimago and is the highest-ranked archaeology journal produced in southern Africa.


powered by social2s

The Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists hosted its biennial conference in Kimberley in July 2019. The conference was held at the new Sol Plaatje University, with some events taking place at the McGregor Museum.Several staff and volunteers in the Department of Human Sciences gave papers at the conference including Dr Gavin Whitelaw, who presented on Ntshekane and the central cattle patternwith Thomas HuffmanDr Justine Wintjes, who presented on rock art as a site of enchantment together with Laura de Harde, and who chaired a session onarchaeology, history of art, and hauntology,Angela Ferreira, who presented on two rock art sites on the Thorn RiverSouth AfricaDr Ghilraen Laue who presented on flight and transformation in southern African rock arttogether with Jeremy Hollmann, and who also presented on San rock painting and the construction of landscapetogether with Dr Geoff Blundell.

Several former members of staff from the Department of Human Sciencesat the KwaZulu-Natal Museum also attended the conference including Dr Tim MaggsDr Aron MazelDr Marlize LombardandDr Jeremy Hollmann.

powered by social2s

In December 2019, Dr Geoff Blundell and Troy Meyers visited Cape Town to undertake research in the National Archives Repository on the Khoisan peoples of the Nomansland regionNomansland was the name given to the area that fell between the Cape and Natal colonies and beyond the control of the large Cape Nguni polities along the south-eastern seaboard of South Africa. Of course, the area was not really a No-Man’s-land but was the home territory of a number of Khoisan peoples. After 1863, when the Griqua made their epic trek from the interior of the country through the Drakensberg and eventually settled in the region of present-day Kokstad, the area was renamed East Griqualand. The work undertaken by Dr Blundell and Troy Meyers is part of an ongoing collaborative project that looks at the histories of Khoisan peoples in the Nomansland area.

powered by social2s

In November 2019, researchers in the KZNM Department of Human Sciences organized a visit to uMgungundlovu, the site of Dingane’s capital between 1828 and 1838. The archaeological archive linked to this site resides in the KZNM but is also dispersed across other institutions and Chief Curator of Archaeology in the Department of Human Sciences at KZNM Gavin Whitelaw is in the process of convening and making sense of these materials. 

The visit arose out of a collaboration between the Five Hundred Year Archive, ongoing curatorial extensions of the Digital Bleek & Lloyd (University of Cape Town) and metsemegologolo (Wits), a consortium of projects working together under the African Digital Humanities programme (Wits), to develop innovative digital archives of diverse materials pertinent to the history of the region prior to colonial times. The group comprised also Justine Wintjes (KZNM), Stefania Merlo, Anton Coetzee and John Wright (Wits), Carolyn Hamilton, Hussein Suleman, Thokozani Mhlambi and Michelle House (UCT), Frans Roodt (University of Limpopo) and Steve Kotze (KwaMuhle Museum). 

PICTURED: John Wright and Thokozani Mhlambi walking up towards the isigodloat uMgungundlovuPhoto by Justine Wintjes (2019). 

powered by social2s

Opening Times

Monday to Friday - 8:15 to 16:30 
Saturdays - 9:00 to 16:00 
Sundays - 10:00 to 15:00


Adults (over 17 years) : R10.00

Children (4-17 years) : R 2.50 

School Learners on tour : R 1.50 per child

Pensioners & toddlers : FREE