A surprising find at Sibhudu Shelter!
An exciting new kind of object was found during recent excavations at Sibhudu Shelter, near Ballito, on the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal.
The deep cylindrical wooden container is thought to be a mortar recovered from Iron Age layers in the rock shelter. It is unusual to find well-preserved wooden items and this object is to our knowledge the first identification of an Iron Age wooden mortar in KwaZulu-Natal.
The object was discovered during excavations by an international team of archaeologists led by Prof. Nicolas Conard of the University of Tübingen. Archaeobotanist Dr Bongekile Zwane will identify the type of tree it was carved from. Samples will also be taken to date the object.
From left to right and clockwise: Dr Gavin Whitelaw (KZN Museum), Prof. Nicolas Conard (University of Tübingen), Prof. Veerle Rots (University of Liège) and Dr Bongekile Zwane (Nelson Mandela University). Photograph: J. Wintjes (2023).
View into the mortar showing the cylindrical cavity. The wood is fragile but the object is surprisingly well preserved. Photograph: J. Wintjes (2023).