Slide 4.2 - copy
Slide 4.2 - copy

Thomas Niel Huffman

17 July 1944 – 30 March 2022

Tom Huffman low res

Thomas (Tom) Huffman, professor emeritus of archaeology at Wits University, died yesterday at home in Johannesburg. He had been struggling for several months with cancer and various related ailments. Tom was born in the United States. Fascinated by Native American artifacts as a child, he took anthropology (including archaeology) at university, first at Denver, then Illinois. His PhD was based on the Leopard’s Kopje pottery sequence in Zimbabwe and involved both excavations and museum-based work there in the late 1960s. Tom took up the position of Inspector of Monuments in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1969, and was made responsible for Mashonaland in 1970. He moved to Johannesburg in 1977 to become head of archaeology at Wits University, where he stayed until he formally retired in 2009. Retirement simply gave him more time for archaeology.

Tom revolutionized the study of the southern African farming past. He introduced new kinds of analyses and interpretations to the discipline that helped transform it from somewhat dry description into richly textured, peopled and meaning-filled accounts. In recent years he took ideas developed and honed here and applied them to American sites he’d worked on as a student. His extraordinary energy, right until the end, generated a publication list of such length and breadth that it will rarely be bettered. It is heavy on the academic side, of course, but he was committed to public education too. He wrote guidebooks on Great Zimbabwe and Mapungubwe and contributed to museum and other exhibitions, including at the KwaZulu-Natal Museum. We look forward to the sadly posthumous publication of his book on the archaeology of Great Zimbabwe. Hambe kahle Ngqalabutho. Uyibekile induku ebandla!

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The KwaZulu-Natal Museum presents, "𝗦𝗻𝗮𝗸𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗠𝘂𝘀𝗲𝘂𝗺: 𝗔 𝗟𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗦𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗡𝗶𝗰𝗸 𝗘𝘃𝗮𝗻𝘀."
Be captivated by master snake handler, Nick Evans- Snake Rescuer from the KZN Amphibian and Reptile Conservation and TV show, Snake Season, as he showcases some of Africa’s wild snakes live at the KZN Museum. 
Experience an adrenaline rush like no other that will keep you at the edge of your seat as you get up close and personal with snakes such as the Puff Adder, Black Mamba and the Ball Python to name a few. 
Purchase your tickets at 𝘄𝗲𝗯𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗸𝗲𝘁𝘀.𝗰𝗼.𝘇𝗮 or at any Pick n Pay and Boxer stores.
𝗗𝗮𝘁𝗲: 30 April 2022 (Saturday)
𝗧𝗶𝗺𝗲: 1st session 10 AM – 11 AM
          2nd session 12 PM – 1 PM
𝗩𝗲𝗻𝘂𝗲: 237 Jabu Ndlovu Street, PMB (KZN MUSEUM)
𝗧𝗶𝗰𝗸𝗲𝘁𝘀: R20 pp
Limited tickets are available, so be sure to get yours early!
#kznmuseum #pietermaritzburg #webtickets #snakes #liveshow #nickevans #longweekend
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More than 190 presentations on the subjects of “Protected Areas and Conservation”, “Communities & Livelihoods Governance, Agriculture and Tourism”, “Biodiversity of Animals”, “Biodiversity of Plants”, “Mountain Invasives”, “Southern African biodiversity data”, “Education & Research Management”, “Water Resource Management”, “Climate Change”, “Archaeology & Heritage” and “Geo-Landscapes” allowed for the exchange of ideas on conservation of natural habitats and on undisruptive use of mountain ecosystems in the Southern Africa.

Session on biodiversity of invertebrates (14th of March 2022) had seven presentations:

Mark Robertson (University of Pretoria), in collaboration with T. Bishop (Cardiff University) and C. Parr (University of Liverpool), found significant increase of ant “Community Temperature Index" that was calculated by combining the temperature tolerance numbers for each species of ants at the lower elevations in the Maloti-Drakensberg Mountains, which correlated with the increased soil temperatures during the winter months at the sampled sites.

Caswell Munyai (University of KwaZulu-Natal), in collaboration with M. Muluvhahothe (University of Venda), C. Seymor (University of Cape Town), S. Mhungo (University of KwaZulu-Natal), G. Joseph and S. Foord (University of Venda), presented an update on the ongoing long-term biodiversity monitoring of ants in the Western Soutpansberg (Limpopo). Temperature and habitat structure fluctuations explained most of the observed changes in the functional diversity of the ant communities.

Stefan Foord, in collaboration with A.S. Dippenaar-Schoeman (University of Venda) and T.C. Munyai (University of KwaZulu-Natal), explained patterns of spider diversity in the Soutpansberg mostly by contemporary changes in habitat structure. Only insignificant portion of variation in spider richness could be explained there by “Middomain effect” (mid elevation peak in species richness).

Igor Muratov, in collaboration with K. Hunter (KwaZulu-Natal Museum), described ecological associations of terrestrial molluscs in different types of habitats in the Maloti-Drakensberg Mountains and showed the significance of microhabitats in the process of recovery of the natural environment.

Thembeka Nxele (KwaZulu-Natal Museum) presented the results of earthworms survey in three reserves (Hillside, Highmoor and Injisuthi) in the Maloti-Drakensberg Mountains and showed that native species were present only in the natural habitats, while six non-native species were collected only near buildings. One non-native species was found in the indigenous forest that could be an indication of possible displacement of native species in the natural habitats.

Adrian Armstrong, in collaboration with S. Louw (Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife), found that the inappropriate burning practices might be leading to a decline of the Protea caffra population that is the host plant for the Critically Endangered Pennington’s Protea Butterfly Capys penningtoni and may lead to the extinction of that butterfly species.

Carol Kunene, in collaboration with T.C. Munyai (University of KwaZulu-Natal) and S.H. Foord (University of Venda), described the plans for application of multi-species occupancy models for biodiversity analysis and distribution of ants, beetles and spiders along the Waterberg Mountains (Limpopo).

It was productive and entertaining to have scientific discussions with the colleagues after long period of pandemic-related isolation.



Igor March 2022

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KZNM at the Southern African Mountain conference!

Last week was held the first Southern African Mountain Conference, ground-breaking in its attempt to approach mountains from many different angles, including ecological, social and archaeological.

The KwaZulu-Natal Museum was well represented at the conference with four papers. Dr Igor Muratov spoke about the distribution of terrestrial molluscs in mountain areas and the importance of micro-habitats for their recovery. Dr Thembeka Nxele discussed how more research is needed to understand native mountain earthworms and their possible vulnerabilities. Dr Ghilraen Laue spoke about regional differences in rock art styles from one mountain zone to another. Dr Justine Wintjes and Ms Nothando Shabalala’s paper dealt with ritual practices aimed at transforming rock shelters into homes.

The conference took place at Champagne Sports Resort, surrounded by a dramatic vista of mountain peaks, rain clouds and occasional sunbeams. It was a festive occasion because for many of the delegates it was the first in-person conference attended since before the Covid-19 pandemic.

 group pic

Justine Wintjes, Nothando Shabalala, Ghilraen Laue and Thembeka Nxele at SAMC. Photo: Igor Muratov.

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Opening Times

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


Adults (over 17 years) : R15.00

Children  : R 5.00 

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