Prof Conard said he and his team were in the process of completing their 8th season (of annual visits) at Sibudu. He and a select number of students excavate six days a week, while the rest of the team
processes the finds at a rented house in Ballito. All tools are washed and sorted and then catalogued. Experts in stone tool technology and use-wear analysis study artefacts with powerful microscopes, to determine how they were made and what they were used
Conard reports that the remains of fauna and flora are remarkably preserved in the Sibudu deposit, and that experts in his team are also on hand to study them.
WHY IS SIBUDU UNIQUE?
Professor Lyn Wadley at Sibudu. Slide by Prof. N. Conard
Prof Conard added that excavations had produced exceptional
finds such as the first bone arrowhead ever found. Residue analyses had revealed compound adhesives, made up of ground ochre, tree resin and animal fats, were used for hafting stone points onto ‘handles. The lithic technology had shown pressure
flaking as well as heat treatment of rock, which eased knapping. Perforated shells, used for stringing necklaces for personal ornamentation had been found, as well a wide range of bone implements. The technology used in the MSA was indicative of the cognitive
ability of the people at that time, showing that they were capable of abstract thought and able to plan and reason.
ZULU NAMES FOR STONE TOOLS FOUND AT SIBUDU
Professor Conard and his team have renamed the post-Howiesons
Poort assemblage the Sibudan technocomplex. The tools they have identified in this sequence show evidence of sophisticated knapping associated with technological innovations. They have named them the Tongati and Ndwedwe tools.
Characteristic tools from the Sibudan assemblages of Holley Shelter.
1-4 = Tongati tools;
9-11 = Splintered pieces.
5-11 modified after Bader et al. 2015 Tongati and Ndewdwe
Research of Sibudu has been undertaken in isolation
and Conard says the aim of the Tübingen team is to provide a key chrono-stratigraphic sequence for the MSA of KZN. Finds from other MSA sites such as Holley Shelter, Umbeli Belli and Umhlatuzana could fit into this sequence or alternatively refine
and amend the behavioural patterns seen at Sibudu
Article on SIBUDU in March edition of Popular Archaeology
Present Status of the Sibudu Cave Site:
Sibudu has not yet been proclaimed as a National Heritage
Site – this is in the pipeline.
The Sibudu Trust has purchased the core site, about 4 hectares, from the farmers who own the land.
While this is a step in the right direction, it does not provide space for any educational
facilities, such as an interpretative centre/museum nor protection for the beautiful riverine surroundings.
We will continue with our aims as set out in our constitution, which include:
- helping to preserve the Sibudu archaeological site
as well as the environment of the surroundings of Sibudu – and promoting ecological awareness, as it is a site of special natural beauty;
- encouraging and assisting with educational projects that are related to the site, both for adults and young
- and promoting responsible, ethical tourism concerning this heritage site
Special Educational Projects by Friends of Sibudu Association
for educators, on activities that teach Grade 5 learners about life in the Middle Ages, will be held on the 19th April. This follows on the successful workshop for educators last year.
Participants will learn to plait grass-snares,
thread shells, paint with “ochre” (kaolin), make hunter-gatherer skin bags, haft stones onto sticks to make hammers, and so on.
This project is done voluntarily by members of FoS, and we use membership fees to help defray expenses.
Members please pay your fees! Not a member? There is a membership form below and do have a look at our website for more information!)
We have asked the Durban Museum if we can collaborate on educational activities.
Each year we arrange for talks at local schools, by members of the Archaeologist team that is excavating the Sibudu Site.