Archived Articles

New publications by Museum staff

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Last month the volume Perspectives on Differences in Rock Art, edited by Jan Magne Gjerde and Mari Strifeldt Arntzen, was published by Equninox Press. The volume presents 25 papers written by rock art scholars from across the globe, and includes papers by Dr Ghilraen Laue and Dr Geoffrey Blundell of the Human Sciences Department at the KwaZulu-Natal Museum. Dr Blundell considers how rock art was used in identity construction and contestation in the Nomansland region after the arrival of people other than the San. Dr Laue considers the question of regionality in rock art and explores how concepts of communities and constellations of practice offer tools to reconceptualise regional differences. These two concepts are applied to motifs of flight and transformation in three areas of rock art to interrogate difference and regional variation in the art.

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This volume explores the differences observed in rock art through time and space, synchronically and diachronically. These differences can, for example, be in form, content or space (macro and micro), where explanations might relate to a variety of factors such as political or societal beliefs and rituals. This volume also discusses the many-sided and complex issues connected with authenticity and presentation, and the efforts and choices that are taken to preserve and present rock art.

Introduction to the volume is free to read here


KwaZulu-Natal Museum sponsors prizes for Archaeology Student Development Conference (SDC) 2021


Kelita Shadrach, WITS PhD Candidate and SAASC secretary with prizes for the conference donated by the KwaZulu-Natal Museum

The Southern African Archaeology Student Council (SAASC) hosts its annual Student Development Conference (SDC) in June 2021. Although their pre-COVID Workshops were in-person events, the pandemic has prompted them to switch to an online event. During the month of June, archaeology students and researchers who have registered for the SDC will have access to lectures, practical activities, and assignments online. The content and activities provide enriching content and participatory learning experiences. Following each lecture, students will complete a practical activity, quiz or essay, which they will submit online for review by SAASC and their workshop presenters with exciting prizes up for grabs, including some donated by the KwaZulu-Natal Museum.

The prizes include museum branded goodies and copies of the latest issue of the journal South African Humanities as well as a set of books recently published by the museum. Dr Blundell from the Human Sciences Department at the KZN Museum handed over the “goody” bags to Kelita Shadrach who is the secretary of the SAASC on the 28th May while visiting Wits to conduct archival research.







The printed version of the 2020 edition of Southern African Humanities is now available!

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Every year, the dedicated staff of the Department of Human Sciences produce the highly-rated inter-disciplinary journal, Southern African Humanities. While papers are published year-round online, the journal is only printed at the end of the annual cycle and appears in the following year. While the online papers are meant to be published as quickly as possible without compromising the academic and editorial processes, the printed version is meant to be a high-quality, limited-run, bespoke product. This means that the journal is printed by old-fashioned lithography rather than digital techniques. There are only a handful of printers left who can still print by this technique in South Africa and fortunately, one of the best, is located in Pinetown. As the cost is expensive, only a small print-run of 200 copies is produced each year and most of those are distributed to subscribers and the exchange-partners of the KwaZulu-Natal Museum’s Library.

The cost of operating and printing academic journals has steadily resulted in many journals being handed over to large production houses with support staff scattered all over the world. While such actions have driven down the cost, they have come with other costs—they can often seem impersonal and turnaround times can be lengthy. The Department of Human Science took a decision in 2018 not to outsource the journal and to continue to strive to produce an interdisciplinary journal of exceptional quality. Dr Geoff Blundell, Head of Human Sciences, states the following: “The journal is a work of passion, undertaken by the three curators in the department—Drs Laue, Wintjes and Whitelaw along with an excellent team of outsourced copy-editors, layout personnel, academic referees, and a world-class editorial board. It takes an inordinate amount of time to produce the journal each year and Whitelaw, Wintjes and Laue produce the journal while undertaking fieldwork, exhibitions, their own research, co-supervising students around the country and the many other activities that they and the collections team do…so much so, that we have considered outsourcing the production. However, we recognized that the quality would not be the same and something special would be lost. I mean..look at this—the quality of reproduction in the print is outstanding and the images, many of which are printed in full-colour, look better than most academic books, let alone other academic journals. Add the journal’s excellent global ratings to the mix and who wouldn’t want to publish in this?” The latest volume includes papers on /Xam territories, /Xam narratives, fermentation and alcohol in southern African archaeology, Nama and Damara beliefs and practices, the coastal archaeology of the Western Cape and Sotho-Tswana pottery traditions in southern Africa.


 Chronicles 1 cover print 2021 02 03

The KwaZulu-Natal Museum is pleased to announce the publication Chronicles of the Seekoei River Bushmen and their Neighbours, Volume 1 by Garth Sampson and Dennis Neville. The book is a companion volume to 2018’s The World of the Seekoei River Bushmen, also published by the KwaZulu-Natal Museum. In Chronicles 1, the authors collate the extensive historical material for the Seacow River area. Lavishly illustrated, with detailed maps, this book represents a small part of a lifetime’s work. Garth Sampson’s interest for the Seekoei River Valley’s archaeology, history, and environment is almost unbounded in its intellectual passion. In this account, the authors leave no stone unturned.

Most South Africans have never heard of the Seekoei (Seacow River), which has its origins in the Sneeuwberg (Snow Mountains) and flows northwards into the Orange River and that is a pity; this seemingly remote and minor river was, for a time, at the heart of Bushmen resistance against colonialism. This volume covers the time-period 1770 to 1830, with a second volume in preparation to cover the period after 1830. These volumes form part of the Occasional Publication series published by the KwaZulu-Natal Museum, edited by Dr Gavin Whitelaw of the Department of Human Sciences. Volumes on other archaeological topics are currently in preparation. The volume is for sale directly from the KwaZulu-Natal Museum currently for a special introductory price of R510, excluding the cost of postage.

If you would like to purchase Chronicles Volume 1 as well as 2018’s The World of the Seekoei River Bushmen, they are available as a set for a short period at the special price of R750, excluding the cost of postage.

If you would like to order a copy, please complete the order form here and email it through to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Kefilwe Rammutloa, a PhD candidate at Yale University, joined the Department of Human Sciences in mid-April, 2021. Kefilwe completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Pretoria before undertaking a Masters degree in Archaeology at Yale University; her dissertation focused on the clay tobacco pipes from Djenné-Djenno, the world-famous UNESCO World Heritage site in Mali. Kefilwe has also been an exchange student at Uppsala University in Sweden. She has extensive archaeological field experience and loves hiking. For her PhD, she will be investigating the Early Iron Age of KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa and she will be based at the museum for a period of six to twelve months over the course of 2021 and 2022.

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