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

In: Journal of African Archaeology
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  • 1 Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X20 Hatfield, Tshwane, 0028, South Africa
  • | 2 Palaeo-Research Institute, University of Johannesburg, PO Box 524, Auckland Park, 2006, South Africa
  • | 3 Department of Archaeology, University of Cape Town, Private Bag, Rondebosch, 7700, Cape Town, South Africa
  • | 4 Rock Art Research Institute, School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, PO Wits 2050, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • | 5 PGS Heritage (Pty) Ltd, PO Box 32542 Totiusdal, East Lynne, Pretoria 0134, South Africa
  • | 6 PGS Heritage (Pty) Ltd, PO Box 32542 Totiusdal, East Lynne, Pretoria 0134, South Africa
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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.

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