Wits researcher Matt Caruana has discovered archaeological tools that may be of great historical significance regarding  southern African cultural advancement. 

DISCOVERY: Matt Caruana digs up potentially significant archaeological tools. Photo: Onke Ngcuka

A team of archaeologists including a Wits postdoctoral researcher, Matt Caruana, have found ancient wood and stone tools at the Amanzi Springs, north of Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape.

The findings, in February, could be of great historical significance in archaeology, and could possibly be connected to the transition between the Acheulean Period, dating from about 1,76-million years ago, and the Middle Stone Age (beginning around 300 000 to 200 000 years ago).

“If we were to find an association between worked wood and those types of hunting technologies [points and blades], it would suggest that for the first time in the archaeological record, we have a positive association of these hunting technologies being hafted,” Caruana told Wits Vuvuzela.

He also said that there had never been evidence of ancient wood being hafted in Southern Africa before.

Archaeology associate professor, Sarah Wurz, told Wits Vuvuzela that the findings of Caruana’s team were in line with the department’s goal to find incredible achievements of earlier periods, and related to the department’s “decolonial project”.

“What we’re saying is, ‘No, hang on, this has been a very advanced place with advanced cultural achievements for a very long time…especially before the 1600s. It is indigenous development’,” Wurz said.

Archaeology honours student, Didintle Sechogela, said, “It opens up a line of research for the coming researchers…it could actually be ground breaking.”

In the event that the findings do have great significance, Caruana told Wits Vuvuzela that he hoped they would boost the archaeological file of Southern Africa and bring international awareness to the site.




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