Thursday, March 26, 2009

Silence and Antiquity on the Veld

Tramping the 4,500 hectares of the Ezemvelo Nature Reserve is the perfect respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life for most of us. Leave the car at reception and enjoy one of the many hiking trails and an abundance of wildlife awaits, as well as archaeological treasures. Earlier this week I found this stone bowl for grinding grain just sitting on the ground not far from the remains of an ancient rondaval style hut (lower picture - click to enlarge). This bowl is a very rare specimen and we'll be putting it on display in reception. What grains were ground in this bowl? Not maize - that was introduced to Africa from South America by Europeans. Were the grains cultivated here, or harvested from the wild? If they were cultivated, how did the farmers protect their crops from wildebeeste, warthogs and other wild animals? I am keen to find the answers!

Evidence of past human inhabitants here is found in many places. It gives cause to wonder at the immense scale of time humans have occupied this land. I have yet to visit the caves here with paintings recording the different people that have lived at Ezemvelo over the ages. So that will have to wait for another day.

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