An Introduction to the Stone Age Archaeology of the Polihali Dam Area, Mokhotlong District, Lesotho

In: Journal of African Archaeology

Abstract

Much of Lesotho’s cultural heritage has been studied as a result of dam developments. Where dams have been built, heritage studies have provided crucial data for improving our understanding of local archaeological sequences. Ahead of the construction of the Lesotho Highland Development Authority’s (LHDA) new Polihali Dam in Lesotho’s Mokhotlong District and following the recommendations of a heritage assessment (CES 2014), a large-scale five-year cultural heritage management program was launched in 2018 that seeks to excavate and mitigate a number of heritage sites. Here, we provide the background to one of southern Africa’s largest heritage mitigation contracts by contextualising the current research program. We then present the archaeology of Lesotho’s eastern highlands basalt region using data collected during the inception phase of this program. The findings challenge current preconceived notions about the sparsity of archaeological remains for this region.

  • Ambrose D.P. 1988. Report on the Hololo Valley Historical Site ‘Liphofung’. Unpublished report. Prepared for the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority.

  • ApohW. & GavuaK. 2016. “We will not relocate until our ancestors and shrines come with us”: heritage and conflict management in the Bui Dam Project area, Ghana. In: SchmidtP.R. & PikirayiI. (eds.) Community Archaeology and Heritage in Africa: Decolonising Practice. RoutledgeLondon pp. 204-223.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • AraziN. 2009. Cultural research management in Africa: challenges, dangers and opportunities. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 44 (1) 95-106.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • AraziN. 2011. Safeguarding archaeological cultural resources in Africa – policies, methods and issues of (non) compliance. African Archaeological Review 28 (1) 27-38.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Arthur C. 2018. The Social World of Hunter-Gatherers in Early Holocene Lesotho: Integrating Method and Theory. Ph.D. thesis Oxford University.

  • ArthurC. & MitchellP.J. 2012. The Metolong Dam: a lasting legacy? The Digging Stick 29 (2) 4-8.

  • ArthurC.MitchellP.J. & MohapiM. 2011. Developer funded archaeology and the impact of dam projects in Lesotho. Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites 13 (2-3) 231-252.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ArthurC.MitchellP.J.DewarG. & BadenhorstS. 2018. After the silt: middle and later Holocene hunter-gatherer archaeology of the Metolong Dam, Lesotho. Southern African Humanities 31129-179.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BattissW. 1948. The Artists of the Rocks. Red Fawn PressPretoria.

  • BonneauA.PearceD.MitchellP.J.StaffR.ArthurC.MallenL.BrockF. & HighamT. 2017. The earliest directly dated rock paintings from southern Africa: new AMS radiocarbon dates. Antiquity 91 (356) 322-333.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BradfieldJ. & SadrK. 2011. Stone arrowheads from Holkrans, North West Province, South Africa. South African Archaeological Bulletin 66 (193) 77-88.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brandt S.A. & Hassan F. 2000. Dams and Cultural Heritage Management. Working paper submitted to the World Commission on Dams.

  • Carter P.L. 1978. The Prehistory of Eastern Lesotho. Ph.D. thesis University of Cambridge.

  • ChallisW. 2009. Taking the reins: the introduction of the horse in the nineteenth-century Maloti-Drakensberg and the protective medicine of baboons. In: MitchellP.J. & SmithB. (eds.) The Eland’s People: essays in memory of Patricia Vinnicombe. Witwatersrand University PressJohannesburg pp. 104-107.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ChallisW. 2012. Creolisation on the nineteenth-century frontiers of southern Africa: a case study of the AmaTola ‘Bushmen’ in the Maloti-Drakensberg. Journal of Southern African Studies 38 (2) 265-280.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ChallisW. 2014. Binding beliefs: the creolisation process in a ‘Bushman’ raider group in nineteenth-century Southern Africa. In: DeaconJ. & SkotnesP. (eds.) The Courage of //kabbo: Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Publication of Specimens of Bushman Folklore. UCT PressCape Town pp. 247-264.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ChallisW.MitchellP.J. & OrtonJ. 2008. Fishing in the rain: control of rain-making and aquatic resources at a previously undescribed rock art site in Highland Lesotho. Journal of African Archaeology 6 (2) 203-218.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Coastal Environmental Services (CES) 2014. Lesotho Highlands Water Project Phase II: LHDA Contract 6002. Report of baseline archaeological and heritage survey. Unpublished report. Prepared for the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority.

  • ForssmanT. & LouwC. 2018. The space of flow at Telperion Shelter: the rock art of a recycled, reused and reimagined place. Time and Mind 11 (2) 185-208.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HaasL.J.M.MazzeiL. & O’LearyD.T. 2010. Lesotho Highlands Water Project: communication practices for governance and sustainability improvement. World BankWashington D.C.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hafsaas-TsakosH. 2011. Ethical implications of salvage archaeology and dam building: the clash between archaeologists and local people in Dar al-Manasir, Sudan. Journal of Social Archaeology 11 (1) 49-76.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HassanF.A. 2007. The Aswan High Dam and the International Rescue Nubia Campaign. African Archaeological Review 24 (3-4) 73-94.

  • HobartJ. 2004. Pitsaneng: evidence for a neolithic Lesotho? Before Farming 41-10.

  • HollmannJ.C. 2016. A glimpse into the archaeology of the Qing-Orpen sites. In: De Prada-SamperJ.M.Du PlessisM.HollmannJ.C.WeintroubJ.Wintjes J. & WrightJ. (eds.) On the trail of Qing and Orpen. Standard BankJohannesburg pp. 123-157.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HooverR. 2001. Pipe Dreams: the World Bank’s Failed Effort to Restore Lives and Livelihoods of Dam-Affected People in Lesotho. International Rivers NetworkBerkeley.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HumphreysA.J.B. 1984. Sociable arrows. The Digging Stick 12-3.

  • JacobsZ.RobertsR.G.GalbraithR.F.DeaconH.J.GrünR.MackayA.MitchellP.J.VogelsangR. & WadleyL. 2008. Ages for the Middle Stone Age of southern Africa: implications for human behavior and dispersal. Science 322 (5902) 733-735.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • JollyP.A. 1995. Melikane and Upper Mangolong revisited: the possible effects on San art of symbiotic contact between south-eastern San and southern Sotho and Nguni communities. South African Archaeological Bulletin 5068-80.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kaplan J. 1995. Archaeological Reconnaissance of Mohale and Matsoku. Unpublished repor. Prepared for the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority.

  • KaplanJ. & MitchellP.J. 2012. The archaeology of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project Phases IA and IB. Southern African Humanities 24 (1) 1-32.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KingR. & ArthurC. 2014. Development-led archaeology and ethics in Lesotho. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 49 (2) 166-183.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KingR. & Nic EoinL. 2014. Before the flood: loss of place, mnemonics, and ‘resources’ ahead of the Metolong Dam, Lesotho. Journal of Social Archaeology 14 (2) 196-223.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KingR.ArthurC. & MitchellP.J. 2014. Ho Makoanyane: the archaeology and history of colonial transitions in Lesotho. Southern African Humanities 26 (1) 57-81.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KingT.F. 2003. Places That Count: traditional cultural properties in cultural resource management. AltaMira PressWalnut Creek.

  • KleinitzC. & NäserC. 2011. The loss of innocence: political and ethical dimensions of the Merowe Dam archaeological salvage project at the Fourth Nile Cataract (Sudan). Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites 13253-280.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KleinitzC. & NäserC. 2013. Archaeology, development and conflict: a case study from the African continent. Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress 9162-191.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lahmeyer MacDonald Consortium & Olivier Shand Consortium 1986. Lesotho Highlands Water Project Feasibility Study. Supporting Report C: environmental and social impact in Lesotho. Government of LesothoMaseru.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) 1989. Lesotho Highlands Water Project – Phase 1A: draft environmental action plan. Lesotho Highlands Development Authority Environmental DivisionMaseru.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lewis-WilliamsJ.D. 1974. Superpositioning in a sample of rock-paintings from the Barkly East District. South African Archaeological Bulletin 29 (115-116) 93-103.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lewis-WilliamsJ.D. 1981a. Believing and Seeing: symbolic meanings in southern San rock paintings. Academic PressLondon.

  • Lewis-WilliamsJ.D. 1981b. The thin red line: southern San notions and rock paintings of supernatural potency. South African Archaeological Bulletin 365-13.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lewis-Williams J.D. & Thorp C. 1989. Archaeology: Lesotho Highlands Water Project environmental study. Unpublished report. Prepared for the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority.

  • Lewis-WilliamsJ.D.BlundellG.ChallisW. & HampsonJ. 2000. Threads of light: re-examining a motif in southern African San rock art. South African Archaeological Bulletin 55123-136.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • LombardM.WadleyL.DeaconJ.WurzS.ParsonsI.MohapiM.SwartJ. & MitchellP.J. 2012. South African and Lesotho Stone Age sequence update (I). South African Archaeological Bulletin 67123-144.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Loubser J.H.N. 1993. Provisional Report on the Conservation of Fourteen Painted Rock Shelters affected by Phase IA of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. Unpublished report. Prepared for the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority.

  • LoubserJ.H.N. & BrinkJ.S. 1992. Unusual paintings of wildebeest and zebra-like animals from north-western Lesotho. Southern African Field Archaeology 1 (2) 103-107.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MazelA.D. 2009. Unsettled times: shaded polychrome paintings and hunter-gatherer history in the southeastern mountains of southern Africa. Southern African Humanities 21 (1) 85-115.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MitchellP.J. 1993. Archaeological investigations at two Lesotho rock-shelters: the terminal Pleistocene/ early Holocene assemblages from Ha Makotoko and Ntloana Tsoana. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 5939-60.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MitchellP.J. 1994. The archaeology of the Phuthiatsana-ea-Thaba Bosiu Basin, Lesotho, southern Africa: changes in Later Stone Age regional demography. Antiquity 68 (258) 83-96.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MitchellP.J. 1995. Revisiting the Robberg: new results and a revision of old ideas at Sehonghong Rock Shelter, Lesotho. South African Archaeological Bulletin 5028-38.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MitchellP.J. 1996a. The late Quaternary landscape at Sehonghong in the Lesotho Highlands, southern Africa. Antiquity 70 (269) 623-638.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MitchellP.J. 1996b. The Late Quaternary of the Lesotho highlands, southern Africa: preliminary results and future potential of ongoing research at Sehongnhong Shelter. Quaternary International 3335-44.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MitchellP.J. 1999. Pressure-flaked points in Lesotho: dating, distribution and diversity. South African Archaeological Bulletin 5490-96.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MitchellP.J. 2002. The Archaeology of Southern Africa. Cambridge University PressCambridge.

  • MitchellP.J. 2005. Managing on Scarce Resources: The Past Record, Present Situation and Future Prospects of Archaeological Resource Management in Lesotho. In: FinneranN. (ed.) Safeguarding Africa’s Past: Selected Papers from a Workshop Held at the School of Oriental and African Studies University of London 2001. British Archaeological ReportsOxford pp. 37-46.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MitchellP.J. 2010. Making history at Sehonghong: Soai and the last Bushman occupants of his shelter. Southern African Humanities 22 (1) 149-170.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MitchellP.J. 2017. Dammed if you do, damned if you don’t: archaeology and the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. In: NdoroW.ChirikureS. & DeaconJ. (eds.) Managing Heritage in Africa: who cares? RoutledgeLondon pp. 161-176.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MitchellP.J. & ArthurC. 2010. Archaeological fieldwork in the Metolong Dam Catchment, Lesotho, 2008-10. Nyame Akuma7451-62.

  • MitchellP.J. & ArthurC. 2014. Ha Makotoko: Later Stone Age Occupation across the Pleistocene/Holocene Transition in Western Lesotho. Journal of African Archaeology 12 (2) 205-232.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mitchell P.J. & Parkington J.E. 1990. The Archaeology of the Hololo Crossing Rock-Shelter. Report submitted to the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority.

  • MitchellP.J. & SteinbergJ.M. 1992. Ntloana Tsoana: a Middle Stone Age Sequence from Western Lesotho. South African Archaeological Bulletin 4726-33.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MitchellP.J. & WhitelawG. 2005. The archaeology of southernmost Africa from c. 2000 BP to the early 1800s: a review of recent research. Journal of African History 46 (2) 209-241.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MitchellP.J.ParkingtonJ.E. & YatesR. 1994. Recent Holocene archaeology in western and southern Lesotho. South African Archaeological Bulletin 4927-56.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MitchellP.J.PlugI. & BaileyG. 2006. Spatial patterning and site occupation at Likoaeng, an open-air hunter-gatherer campsite in the Lesotho Highlands, southern Africa. Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association 16 (1) 81-94.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MitchellP.J.PlugI.BaileyG.N.CharlesR.L.EsterhuysenA.B.Lee ThorpJ.A.ParkerA.G. & WoodborneS. 2011. Fishing at the place of the tobacco plants: a high resolution open-air record of late Holocene hunter-gatherers from highland Lesotho. Antiquity 85 (330) 1225-1242.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MwanziO. 2007. Hydropolitics, ecocide and human security in Lesotho: a case study of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. Journal of Southern African Studies 33 (1) 3-17.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nic EoinL. & KingR. 2013. How to develop intangible heritage: the case of Metolong Dam, Lesotho. World Archaeology 45 (4) 653-669.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PagerH. 1971. Ndedema: a documentation of the rock paintings of the Ndedema Gorge. Akademische DruckGraz.

  • Parkington J.E. & Mitchell P.J. 1993. Archaeological Impact of Road Construction in the Phase IB Area of Lesotho Highlands Water Project. Unpublished report. Prepared for the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority.

  • PintoH.ArcherW.WitelsonD.RegensbergR.Edwards BakerS.MokhachaneR.RalimpeJ.NdabaN.MokhantsoL.LechekoP. & ChallisW. 2018. The Matatiele Archaeology and Rock Art (MARA) program excavations: the archaeology of Mafusing 1 Rock Shelter, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Journal of African Archaeology 16 (2) 1-22.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PlugI.MitchellP.J. & BaileyG.N. 2010. Late Holocene fishing strategies in southern Africa as seen from Likoaeng, highland Lesotho. Journal of Archaeological Science 373111-3123.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • RussellT. 2000. The application of the Harris Matrix to San rock art at Main Caves North, KwaZulu-Natal. South African Archaeological Bulletin 5560-70.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SadrK. 2009. Marine shell dates and surface lithic assemblages on the west coast of South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science 362713-2729.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SchmidtP. n.d.. Human rights, culture, and dams: a new global perspective. In: BrandtS.A. & HassanF. (eds.) Damming the Past: dams and cultural heritage management. Lexington BooksLanham pp. 79-90.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SkinnerJ.D. & ChimimbaC. 2005. The Mammals of the Southern African Sub-Region. Cambridge University PressCambridge.

  • Smeyatsky I. 2017. Discerning and explaining shape variations in Later Stone Age tanged arrowheads southern Africa. M.Sc. thesis University of the Witwatersrand.

  • SmitsL.G.A. 1973. Rock-painting sites in the upper Senqu valley, Lesotho. South African Archaeological Bulletin 2832-38.

  • SmitsL.G.A. 1983. Rock paintings in Lesotho: their content and characteristics. South African Archaeological Bulletin 3862-76.

  • SmitsL.G.A. 1988. Recording and deciphering of rock paintings in Lesotho. Bollettino del Centro Camuno di Studi Preistorici 2493-98.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • StewartB.A.DewarG.I.MorleyM.W.InglisR.H.WheelerM.JacobsZ. & RobertsR.G. 2012. Afromontane foragers of the Late Pleistocene: site formation, chronology and occupational pulsing at Melikane rockshelter, Lesotho. Quaternary International 27040-60.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SwartJ. 2004. Rock art sequences in uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, South Africa. Southern African Humanities 16 (1) 13-35.

  • VinnicombeP. 1976. People of the Eland. University of NatalPietermaritzburg.

  • WiessnerP. 1983. Style and social information in Kalahari San projectile points. American Antiquity 48 (2) 253-276.

  • Wood M. 2012. Interconnections: glass beads and trade in southern and eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean – 7th to 16th centuries AD. Ph.D. thesis Uppsala University.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 196 197 196
Full Text Views 5 5 5
PDF Downloads 3 3 3