'An Iron Age Fishing Tale': Gavin Whitelaw to give Royal Society lecture

2010-03-12 00:00

GAVIN Whitelaw, an archaeologist at the Natal Museum and one of the presenters in the SABC series Shoreline, will next week give the Royal Society of South Africa lecture, entitled “An Iron Age fishing Tale”.

Though most of the classic studies of southern African Bantu speakers indicate they didn’t eat fish, archaeological and historical evidence tells another story — at least some Iron Age people fished along the South African east coast.

Fishing took several forms, from institutional fishing with traps and drives to more casual, informal spear fishing that was simply another way of getting food. Institutional fishing was probably more common north of Mhlatuze lagoon (Richards Bay) where suitable estuaries occur.

Natal Bay was a southern outlier where people built fish traps, possibly from the seventh century AD onwards. In the 1770s, the signi­ficance of fishing there provided the invading Thuli with an important resource when they took control of the territories around the bay.

The lecture takes place on March 18, at 5.30 pm for 5.45 pm at the John Bews Lecture Theatre, Life Sciences Campus, Pietermaritzburg. Light refreshments will be supplied. Inquiries: Edith Elliott at extension 5455.

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