Human Sciences

The Department of Human Sciences has a dynamic team of inter-disciplinary curators who conduct research in archaeology, history, anthropology, rock art, museumology, object biographies and materiality. The department has a long history of research excellence and many of southern Africa’s senior archaeologists have worked at the museum at some point in their careers, including Tim Maggs, Aron Mazel and Martin Hall. The Human Sciences Department is also responsible for producing the prestigious inter-disciplinary academic journal Southern African Humanities, which has been published since 1906 (albeit with differing titles). The department also produces books under the moniker of “Occasional Publications of the KwaZulu-Natal Museum”.

The research produced by staff is fundamental to a range of subsidiary activities including permanent and temporary exhibitions, outreach, education and collections management. With collections that number over 100,000 items, staff also conduct research on items within the stores of the museum. As the Twenty-First Century progresses, the Human Sciences Department will continue to contribute to the KwaZulu-Natal Museum’s vision and goals of bridging the divide between scholars and the public, producing original research and curating the nation’s heritage assets to international standards.


DHS Main Image

Recent Publications


Sengupta, D., Choudhury, A., Fortes-Lima, C., Aron, S., Whitelaw, G., Bostoen, K., Gunnink, H., Chousou-Polydouri, N., Delius, P., Tollman, S., Gómez-Olivé, F.X., Norris, S., Mashinya, F., Alberts, M., AWI-Gen Study, H3Africa Consortium, Hazelhurst, S., Schlebusch C.M. & Ramsay, M. 2021. Genetic substructure and complex demographic history of South African Bantu speakers. Nature Communications 12: article 2080, 13 pages.

Whitelaw, G. 2021. Zulu pottery and its production context. In J. Charlton, F. Rankin-Smith, A. Nettleton, K. Mokgojwa, L. Leyde & L. Cohen (eds), Seen, Heard and Valued: WAM celebrates 40 years of the Standard Bank African Art Collection. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Art Museums, pp. 137–152.

Laue, G. 2021. Birds and blurred boundaries: communities of practice and the problem of regions in San rock art. In J.M. Gjerde & M.S. Arntzen (eds), Perspectives on differences in Rock Art. Sheffield: Equinox Press, pp. 266–283.


Whitelaw, G. & Janse van Rensburg, S. 2020. Lake Sibaya and the beginning of the Iron Age in KwaZulu-Natal. The Digging Stick 37 (2): 1–4.

Laue, G. 2020. Rock Art in Southern Africa, Regional Difference. In Smith C. (eds) Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. Cham: Springer.

Huffman, T.N. & Whitelaw, G. 2020. Ntshekane and the Central Cattle Pattern: reconstructing settlement history. In D.S. Whitley, J.H.N. Loubser & G. Whitelaw (eds) Cognitive archaeology: mind, ethnography, and the past in South Africa and beyond. London: Routledge, pp. 135–151.

Huffman, T.N., Whitelaw, G., Tarduno, J.A., Watkeys, M.K. & Woodborne, S. 2020. The Rhino Early Iron Age site, Thabazimbi, South Africa. Azania: Archaeological Research In Africa 

Whitelaw, G. 2020. Homesteads, pots, and marriage in southeast southern Africa: cognitive models and the dynamic past. In D.S. Whitley, J.H.N. Loubser & G. Whitelaw (eds) Cognitive archaeology: mind, ethnography, and the past in South Africa and beyond. London: Routledge, pp. 152–183.

Whitley, D.S., Loubser, J.H.N. & Whitelaw, G. 2020. Cognitive archaeology: mind, ethnography, and the past in South Africa and beyond. London: Routledge.


Steyn, M., Whitelaw, G., Botha, D., Vicente, M., Schlebusch, C.M. & Lombard, M. 2019. Four Iron Age women from KwaZulu-Natal: biological anthropology, genetics and archaeological context. Southern African Humanities 32: 23–56.

Whitelaw, G. 2019. Ntshekane and the end of the Early Iron Age in KwaZulu-Natal. The Digging Stick 37: 1–4. 

Wintjes, J. 2019. Dress as social relations: an interpretation of Bushman dress [Book review]. de arte. DOI: 10.1080/00043389.2019.1621509.

Wintjes, J. & Tiley-Nel, S. 2019. The Lottering connection: revisiting the ‘discovery’ of Mapungubwe. The South African Archaeological Bulletin 74 (210): 101–110.


Blundell, G. & Ferreira, A. 2018. Tusk and transformation in southern African San rock art: an iconographic analysis of WAR2. Azania 53341–368.

Laue, G., Challis, S. & Mullen, A. 2018. Concerning heritage: lessons from rock art management in the Maloti-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. In S. Makuvaza (ed.) Aspects of management planning for Cultural World Heritage Sites: principles, approaches and practices. Cham: Springer, pp. 119–130.

Thorp, C. 2018. Thoughts on 'thinking strings'. Southern African Humanities 31: 79–92. 

Ward, V. & Wintjes, J. 2018. “Painted buffalo horns”: imagery from the Anglo-Boer War. Southern African Humanities 30: 1–30.


Laue, G. 2017. McAll’s Cave: characterising the rock art of the Groot Winterhoek Mountains, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Southern African Humanities 30: 145–183.

Laue, G. 2017. On the trail of Qing and Orpen [Book Review]. South African Archaeological Bulletin72(206): 177.

Whitelaw, G. 2017. “Only fatness will bring rain”: agriculturist rainmaking and hunter-gatherers. Southern African Humanities 30: 101–124.

Wintjes, J. 2017. Apron/cape (c.1880), Unrecorded Khoe-San artist, Namibia. In C. Clarke (ed.) Global Arts of Africa: The Newark Museum Collection Catalogue. Newark: Newark Museum, pp. 82–85.

Wintjes, J. 2017. Frobenius discovered before crossing Limpopo Ruins, ancient fortificated settlements, beautiful pottery mountains stop. de arte 52 (1): 31–67.

Wintjes, J. 2017. Thinking through things: the transformative work of the Object Biographies project. In R. Osman, & D.J. Hornsby (eds) Transforming teaching and learning in higher education. Palgrave Critical University Studies. London & New York: Palgrave MacMillan, pp. 137–153.

Human Sciences Team

Principal Curator
Chief Curator
Collections Technician
Research Technician
Technical Assistant

Opening Times

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


Adults (over 17 years) : R15.00

Children (4-17 years) : R 5.00 

School Learners on tour : R 2.50 per child

Pensioners & toddlers : FREE