Dr Ghilraen Laue, Human Sciences Department, KwaZulu-Natal Museum is currently working on an archaeological excavation directed by Professor Lyn Wadley, Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand. She is also joined by Dr Chrissie Sievers, GAES, University of the Witwatersrand and Dr Carolyn Thorp, formerly of the KwaZulu-Natal Museum. The site, Woodstock Rocks, is situated on Kaingo Private Nature Reserve in the Waterberg, Limpopo Province. Over the coming days Ghilraen will be updating us on the progress of the excavation.


Day 1

GL 1

The site Woodstock Rocks is situated in a shallow overhang overlooking the Mokolo River. Occasionally a crocodile can be seen cruising by. (Photo: L. Wadley)


We cleared the excavation area of bush, baboon droppings, and spiders and set up a 2 metre by 2.5 metre grid. (Photo: L. Wadley)



On the way back to our accommodation we were very excited to see some zebra. (Photo: G. Laue)



Day 2

GL 4

GL 5

Scattered on the floor of the shelter were many pieces of pottery, some of them decorated. The decorations imply that the pottery is just under 2000 years old.




Another special surface find was an exquisite Middle Stone Age bifacial point made of agate.

We started excavating two metre squares removing the surface layer. It was full of dassie droppings, leaves and many seeds from the large variety of edible fruits in the area. Fat cut worms were also buried in the sediment.



Day 3


The excavated deposit is sieved and then sorted into different categories such as bone, charcoal, seeds and stone. Here Dr Sievers and Dr Thorp sorting. (Photo: G. Laue)



Close up of the Ochna natalitia flower close to our parking place near the river. (Photo: L. Wadley)



Flowers on Sterculia rogersii on the steep path to the site. (Photo: L. Wadley)

Walking the steep path to and from the site daily we record the current vegetation on the south-west-facing hillside. Our modern records are a useful comparison for the plants identified in the archaeological excavation through seed identification and charcoal analysis.


Day 4


Day 4 1

Small coloured flags mark the positions of different archaeological finds such as pieces of ochre, stone tools and animal bones. (Photo: L. Wadley)


day4 2

A Nikon electronic measuring device (EDM) is used to plot the position of the finds. This information shows us how people used their living space in the past. (Photo: C. Sievers)



day4 3

A red-headed weaver has started building a nest close to the EDM. He does not seem to be disturbed by our presence. (Photo: L. Wadley)



Day 5

da5 1

There are fine-line San paintings at Woodstock Rocks. Much of the rock art is faded and difficult to see. Some of the better-preserved images can only be reached by climbing a ladder. (C. Sievers)


day 5 2

This panel has the white outline of an eland with a white-painted head and neck, and some unidentified red and white antelope. (Photo: L. Wadley)


day 5 3

Sable Antelope (Photo: G. Laue)


day 5 4

Klipspringer. (Photo: L. Wadley)

On the road to and from the site we have seen a variety of antelope including sable, klipspringer, waterbuck, impala, kudu and wildebeest.



Day 6

Day 6 1

The Woodstock Rocks Team: Dr Ghilraen Laue, Dr Carolyn Thorp, Professor Lyn Wadley and Dr Chrissie Sievers.

We have now excavated the surface layers and in the Very Dark Greyish Brown layer below we are finding Middle Stone Age stone tools.


Day 6 2


Beetle Larvae have caused some disturbance in the deposits.



Day 7


day 7 a

The above photo shows two squares we are excavating. On the left, in square F2, the stone artefacts in the Dark Brown layer have been flagged so they can be mapped with the EDM. In the square on the right, F3, we are coming onto a rock fall that will be removed in the coming days (Photo: G. Laue).


Below are some examples of the Middle Stone Age stone tools we have excavated:


day 7 2


A quartzite blade (left) and a quartzite flake (right) (Photo: L. Wadley)


day 7 3

A siltstone blade (left) and a siltstone flake (right) (Photo: L. Wadley)



day 7 4

Traffic on the road to work (Photo: L. Wadley).


Day 8

Woodstock Rocks has the faded remains of San rock paintings scattered across the walls. The paintings have faded due to natural weathering and dust. To minimise dust while we are excavating we have covered the area around the excavation and the walkways on the site with a geotextile which can be seen in the previous photos of the site.

Below we have used a programme, DStretch, to enhance the images and make some of these faded paintings clearer:

day 8 1

(Photos: G. Laue)

day 8 2

(Photos: G. Laue)


day 8 3

(Photos: G. Laue)


Day 9

 IMG 0195

An early morning view of the Mokolo River below the site, taken from where we parked our car. (Photo: G. Laue)



 As we excavated deeper we needed to remove some of the rocks that had fallen from the cliff face. (Photo: C. Sievers)


IMG 0387

The red-headed weaver has completed his first nest, but his partner does not seem to approve. When she comes to look at it she chirrups a lot and he has now started weaving a second nest. (Photo: G. Laue)


Day 10


Wim Biemond, an Iron Age archaeologist based in Botswana, has joined us for a few days. Here he is checking the surface for pottery fragments and recording the upper and lower grindstones strewn around the site. (Photo: C. Sievers)


Grindstones 1

A selection of upper grindstones found on the surface at Woodstock Rocks. This image shows the variety of shapes and sizes of the grindstones collected by Wim Biemond (Photo: L. Wadley)


Grindstones 2

Lower grindstones At least 46 upper grindstones and many lower grindstones were counted by Wim Biemond on the surface of the site. (Photo: L. Wadley)


IMG 0703

One of the routes to and from the site took us past a small dam teaming with birdlife. (Photo: G. Laue)


 Day 11

IMG 0347

The images on our Woodstock Rocks t-shirts were copied from the rock art panel viewed at the top of the ladder (see Day 5). Here we are looking at some of the faded rock art at the site. (Photo: R. Wadley)

We were delighted to see not only many large mammals and varied birdlife, but also an amazing array of plants and different insects.

IMG 0191

(Photo: G. Laue)

IMG 0311

(Photo: G. Laue)


Day 12 

IMG 0735

The excavation trench is getting deeper. Here Prof Wadley is using a tablet to take a picture of the flagged tools before mapping them with the EDM. Bedrock can be seen in the left of square F3, and there is a large rock taking up a little less than half of square F2, but the other areas of the trench continue to yield Middle Stone Age artefacts. (Photo: G. Laue)


IMG 0377

Dr Thorp, Prof Wadley and Dr Sievers at Woodstock Rocks with the view of the Mokolo River below. (Photo: G. Laue)


Day 13


Three sediment cores were carefully removed by hammering plastic pipes into the section walls. The sediment in the pipes will be used for dating Stone Age occupations at the site. The method, optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating, involves measuring the luminescence from quartz grains that have not been exposed to light since the time of their burial. (Photo: L. Wadley)



Many of the stone tools at Woodstock are made on siltstone. This rock originates in the Vaalwater Formation that outcrops less than ten kilometres from the site.(Photo: L. Wadley)


IMG 0086

At the end of a long days work we are treated to views of spectacular sunsets from our accommodation. (Photo: G. Laue)


Day 14

 The excavation is drawing to an end. We are near bedrock across the whole of the trench. After the last few bucketsful of deposit are removed and artefacts mapped we will draw the section profiles which show the different stratigraphic layers through which we have excavated. At the deepest, the excavation reaches just below 60 cm. (Photo: G. Laue)

IMG 0727

(Photo: G. Laue)

IMG 0744

(Photo: L. Wadley)



One of the many exciting sightings on our way back to our accommodation: a giraffe eating newly sprouted leaves. (Photo: C. Sievers)


Day 15

The last day at the site involved much hot and dirty work. We dismantled and packed up all our equipment and rehabilitated the site to leave it looking as if we had never been there. We filled sandbags with soil from the sieve heap and placed these in the excavated trench. The sandbags were then covered with a layer of soil and a few rocks so that in time no one will be able to see any sign that an excavation once took place at Woodstock Rocks.

The excavated artefacts and selected surface finds will be taken away to laboratories for further analysis. In the near future, we will publish our interpretations of what happened at the site in the past.


IMG 0731

The site a couple of days before the end of the excavation. (Photo: G. Laue)


last day

The site as we left it. This picture is taken from a slightly different angle from the one above, but the excavation trench and gazebo were originally in the centre of this frame. (Photo: G. Laue)


IMG 0765

This photo was taken on our way home: a fitting last view of an elephant on our last day at Kaingo Private Nature Reserve. (Photo: G. Laue)


May 2023 Newsletter

Read all about our recent happenings in the Museum in our May 2023 Newsletter

Celebrating Fifty Years of Archaeology-Remembering Past Staff: Dr Bronwen van Doornum Bronwen Louelle van Doornum was born on 25 May 1976. She star...

Celebrating Fifty Years of Archaeology-Remembering Past Staff: Valerie Ward Val Ward was born in 1935 in Durban, where she later studied and then p...

Celebrating Fifty Years of Archaeology-Remembering Past Staff: Dr Aron Mazel Aron joined the museum in 1979 immediately after completing his honour...

Celebrating Fifty Years of Archaeology-Remembering Past Staff: Dr Timothy Maggs Tim Maggs (on the left in the picture above) became involved in arc...

Rock art at Bamboo Mountain – Part 2

Rock Art at Bamboo Mountain – Part 2   In April Drs Ghilraen Laue and Justine Wintjes of the Department of Human Sciences, KZN Museum, and Dr Vibeke...

Rock art at Bamboo Mountain – Part 1

Rock Art at Bamboo Mountain – Part 1 In April Drs Justine Wintjes and Ghilraen Laue of the Department of Human Sciences, KZN Museum, along with Dr Vi...

Youth Empowerment Workshop

In anticipation of Youth Month the KZN Museum has prepared a Youth Development Workshop on the 15 June 2023, from 9am - 1pm, to empower young peop...

KwaZulu-Natal Museum at Tourism Indaba

KwaZulu-Natal Museum at Tourism Indaba  Come and visit the South African Museums Association (SAMA) stand at the Tourism Indaba at the Durban Interna...

Storeroom Talk - May

Mark your schedules and save the date! The KZN Museum's next storeroom talk will take place on Wednesday, 10th of May at 10h30. Gunther Moller will ...

April 2023 Newsletter

Click on this link to: Read all the latest happenings from the month of April!        

Data Liberator through PLAZI

Data Liberator through PLAZI     By Siya Zamisa   Dr John Midgley and I attended a Plazi workshop that seeks to promote the development of pers...

Excavations near Weenen

Excavations near Weenen Archaeologist Gavin Whitelaw, KwaZulu-Natal Museum, and a team from the University of Pretoria led by Kefilwe Rammutloa are c...

Rare slug from Drakensberg

RARE SLUG FROM DRAKENSBERG Over a 130 years ago, Henry Clifden Burnup (1852–1928), lived in Pietermaritzburg and was, essentially, the founder of the...

March 2023 Newsletter

Click on this link to: Read all the latest happenings from the month of March!    

Visit by Royal Armouries

Visit by Royal Armouries Between 1919 and 1920, the Secretary for State for the Colonies offered material from the Tower of London, which was part of...

Storeroom Talk

Easter Weekend Hours 2023

New insights from old collections

New insights from old collections The KwaZulu-Natal Museum’s Human Sciences department is hosting three visiting researchers from Europe, Dr Gregor B...

A surprising find at Sibhudu Shelter!

A surprising find at Sibhudu Shelter!  An exciting new kind of object was found during recent excavations at Sibhudu Shelter, near Ballito, on the no...

Human Rights Day

Happy Human Rights Day Today we celebrate the cornerstone of democracy in South Africa, the rights of all people in our country and the democratic v...

World Poetry Day

World Poetry Day celebrates linguistic diversity and recognizes the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind.   ...

Natural Science Lesson

Getting a closer look at the differences between animal and plant cells with Mashaka Combined School during their formal Natural Science lesson on...

Fuze’s Gourd Installation discussed in International Seminar At a seminar hosted by the Research Centre for Material Culture in the Netherlands and h...

New Collaborative Research between Members of the Khoesan Community and Scholars at the KwaZulu-Natal Museum Published A paper entitled ‘Mijnheer Loc...

Newsletter February 2023

Read all about the happenings at the Museum during the month of February.  Click on the word Febuary to access the newsletter.  

Recent book donations to the KwaZulu-Natal Museum Library! Our warmest thanks go to recent donors of art, history, and archaeology books to the KwaZu...

South Coast sampling

South Coast sampling by Dr T Nxele Another interesting earthworm survey at Oribi Gorge took place in December 2023, where sugarcane was one of the si...

January 2023 Newsletter

Our newsletter is out! Catch up on all things KZN Museum, click on the link below.   January 2023 Newsletter

Documenting rock art in the Waterberg

Documenting rock art in the Waterberg A panel of antelope in a small but densely painted shelter (Waterberg, photograph: G. Laue).   The rock art o...

Posthumously-published paper by Professor Thomas N. Huffman available as open access Venda-type walling, Limpopo Province. Image credit: T. N. Huffma...

Seasonal Survey of horse flies

Seasonal Survey of horse flies by Dr Kirsten Williams Horse flies are usually seen as a nuisance that bite, but they are also important vectors of di...

Progress made on pollinating fly conservation

Progress made on pollinating fly conservation by Dr John Midgley While most people are well aware of the role bees play in pollination, the role of o...

Fieldwork in the Groot Winterhoek Mountains, Eastern Cape In November 2022, Dr Vibeke Viestad from the University of Oslo joined Drs Ghilraen Laue an...

Research into ‘Bushman’ dress by visiting scholar Dr. V. M. Viestad The Department of Human Sciences recently hosted Dr Vibeke Maria Viestad from th...

Fuze’s gourd

Fuze’s gourd In 1904, the Museum received a donation of a beer gourd. The donor was probably the amakholwa writer and intellectual Magema Magwaza Fuz...

Long Service Awards

  Congratulations to our staff that received long service awards today! Your years of service at the KwaZulu-Natal Museum are a true testimony of y...

World Aids Day

Raising awareness to help fight the stigma and discrimination against HIV/AIDS.#kznmuseum #WorldAIDSDay #1stofDecember #RockTheRibbon      

Holiday Programme

Shark Dissection Show

The Black People and Whence They Came

UKZN Press and The KwaZulu-Natal Museum invite you to celebrate the republication of Abantu Abamnyama Lapa Bavela Ngakona & The Black People and Whenc...

Indian Africans

The public is invited to attend this book launch, to be held at the KZN Museum on Saturday, 26 November at 3pm. Entrance is free. Please RSVP...

Don’t worry! We have more snakes in the collection room by Matabaro Ziganira  Over the last few months, our successful outreach programmes led by th...

San tortoise-shell boxes, past and present

«This little thing of ours», as one Ju|’hoan woman expressed it earlier this year, is a distinct part of San material culture. The tortoise-shell bo...

Excavations at Border Cave 2022

Excavations at Border Cave 2022 Border Cave is located in the Lebombo mountain range in KwaZulu-Natal overlooking eSwatini. This site is one of a few...

Night at the Museum: Halloween Edition FAQ's

Where to park?

Exploring coral reef resilience

Exploring coral reef resilience When looking at the sand on a beach, one might not realise that it can contain many different types of shells: from t...

Imisundu iwuvundisa kanjani umhlabathi

Imisundu njenga ihlala emhlabathini kusho ukuthi nokubaluleka kwayo kuse mhlabathini. Imisundu idla umhlabathi ihlanganise namacembe asefile awela pha...

Opening Times and Entry Fees


Request for Quotations

Professor Judith Masters, 1956 – 2022

Professor Judith Masters, 1956 – 2022By Dr Gavin Whitelaw On the 3rd of October 2022, Professor Judith Masters and her partner Dr Fabien Génin were...

Game Pass Shelter Symposium

The Department of Human Sciences of the KwaZulu-Natal Museum hosted a lively symposium about Game Pass Shelter from 14 to 16 September 2022, which inc...

Woodstock Rocks Excavation – September/October 2022

Dr Ghilraen Laue, Human Sciences Department, KwaZulu-Natal Museum is currently working on an archaeological excavation directed by Professor Lyn Wadle...

With the relaxation of international travel restrictions, KwaZulu-Natal Museum scientists are able to share their research with a global audience agai...

The 16th PanAfrican Archaeological Association Congress, Zanzibar, Tanzania In August, Dr. Justine Wintjes and Dr. Ghilraen Laue, Human Sciences De...

SAMA Conference

KwaZulu-Natal Museum participation at the regional South African Museums Association Conference and the fieldwork in Zululand The conference took pla...

Ukuphosa itshe esivivaneni

Opening of UKUPHOSA ITSHE ISIVIVANENI, an art installation by UKZN’s Centre for Visual Arts at the KwaZulu-Natal Museum19th September 2022 @ 5.30pm ...

Spears week: annual intervention into the Human Sciences collections Spears were the focus of the annual intervention into the KwaZulu-Natal Museum’s...

Archaeological Society Talk: Excavation and Rock Art in the WaterbergGhilraen Laue and Professor Lyn Wadley in front of the large sheep painting at th...

Mandela Day 2022

The KZN Museum commemorated Mandela Day with a special visit to Sivuli Zandla Children's Home Care Centre located in Willofontein. The visit ...

Bat Rescue

An unexpected visitor to the museum recently caused consternation for some of the staff.  On returning to work after a weekend, a bat was discovered d...

Visiting Scholar from the University of Toronto, Canada Ms. Hopper measuring the internal diameter of an ostrich eggshell bead. Courtneay Hopper, a ...

Outreach Holiday Programme

  KZN Museum Outreach Education Officer Marsha Kalika conducted a 3-day outreach holiday programme at the Old Prison Museum this week. The k...

Visiting Researchers from the University of Johannesburg In early June the KwaZulu-Natal Museum, Human Sciences Department, welcomed University of Jo...

Night at the Museum: Winter Edition

The KwaZulu-Natal Museum presents Night at the Museum. So much to see including live snake shows! Loads of activities: archaeological exc...

RECAP: One of the mandates for the Natural Science Department, is to publish its collections data that fall under its umbrella to the free access data...

Archaeoacoustic project in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park Recently, Dr Ghilraen Laue, Human Sciences Department, Kwazulu-Natal Museum, joined the ER...

Just out: the book Archives of Times Past

Just out: the book Archives of Times Past   A book titled Archives of Times Past: conversations about South Africa’s deep history, edited by Cynth...

Chemists, druggists, and theatrics: a new donation for the KwaZulu-Natal Museum  Mr. Coyne holding one of the items donated: the ‘Dispensing Dept’ si...

Call for suppliers

INVITATION TO SMEs TO SUBMIT THEIR COMPANY PROFILES KwaZulu-Natal Museum’s procurement operations are governed in accordance with the Public Finance ...

Taxonomy and Systematics Training Course

From the 28th April to the 8th May a training course in Taxonomy and Systematics of African Pollinating flies was held at Shawswood in Karkloof, KZN. ...

Africa Day at the Museum

The KZN Museum will be celebrating Africa Day on the 25th May 2022 from 9am – 12:00 pm. The first part of the celebrations includes a lecture on Afric...

International Museum Day 2022

Every year we celebrate International Museum Day on the 18 May! This year the focus is on "Museums have the power to transform the world around us." ...

Collection expansion by interns

In June 2019 the Museum hosted two interns in the department of Natural Sciences (Malacology) in partnership with CATHSSETA. In their first week of a...

A visit to Patricia Vinnicombe’s childhood home "My main aim has been to demonstrate that the Bushman rock paintings are concerned not so much with t...

Launch of reading corner

KZN Museum celebrated World Book and Copyright Day by launching a reading corner at the Learners Resource Centre.  Special thanks to guest sp...

World Book and Copyright Day

Happy World Book and Copyright Day! 📖📗 Created by UNESCO on 23rd April 1995, World Book Day is a worldwide celebration, promoting the enjoyme...

Reading Corner Launch

THE PUBLIC IS INVITED TO ATTEND as we celebrate World Book and Copyright Day by launching a reading corner at the KZN Museum. Join us this c...

Easter Weekend Hours

𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗻𝗼𝘁𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗠𝘂𝘀𝗲𝘂𝗺 𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘀 𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗳𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝘄𝗲𝗲𝗸𝗲𝗻𝗱. Wishing you and your loved ones a peaceful long weekend. Stay safe. ...

Thomas Niel Huffman 17 July 1944 – 30 March 2022 Thomas (Tom) Huffman, professor emeritus of archaeology at Wits University, died yesterday at hom...

More From: News Featured

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