Dingane artifacts dug up, 170 years on

2008-07-16 00:00

Amafa Heritage KZN yesterday released details of exciting archeological finds dating back to King Dingane’s reign in the mid-19th century at the Zulu king’s former royal residence at uMgungundlovu.

The dig was undertaken by Amafa to locate the outer palisade of the immense oval-shaped residence of about 1 500 beehive-shaped, grass-covered dwellings enclosing a open area where the king inspected his army and Nguni cattle. There was an outer timber palisade and an inner one to contain cattle.

Amafa CEO Barry Marshall said the site is 30 km from Ulundi, in the heart of the eMakhosini Valley where many Zulu kings lie buried. It is adjacent to the R25 million multi-media centre being built to showcase four centuries of Zulu history.

“It was here on February 4, 1838, that King Dingane ordered the slaying of Voortrekker leader Piet Retief and his party. They are buried on kwaMatiwane (the Hill of Execution), near the homestead, where there is a memorial.

“After the ensuing Battle of Blood River when the Zulus were defeated by the Boers, Dingane left his residence, ordering it to be burned,” said Marshall.

He said an archaeological dig during the 1970s exposed circular fire-baked mud-and-dung floors, and some dwellings have been reconstructed including the king’s personal one.

Marshall said the latest dig has unearthed other items of historical interest. “These are an iron spearhead and coloured glass beads dating to King Dingane’s occupation. Piles of charcoal also found relate to the torching of the thatched dwellings and palisades.

“Foundations for the multi-media centre have been completed and it is due to open early next year. It is intended as the departure point for visits to the cultural, historical and natural attractions of the 30 000 ha eMakhosini Opathe Heritage Park,” said Marshall.

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