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ID #4581

Lydenburg Heads, Escarpment, Mpumalanga.

Ludwig von Bezing was small boy when he first saw pieces of the now famous Lydenburg Heads while playing in the veld on his father’s farm near Lydenburg. Later he developed an interest in archaeology and returned to where he first saw the shards. From 1963 to 1966, he frequently visited the Sterkspruit Valley to collect pieces of seven clay heads. 

He joined the archaeological club while studying medicine at the University of Cape Town. At their insistence, he took his finds to the university. He had found seven heads as well as potsherds, iron beads, copper beads, ostrich egg beads, pieces of bone and millstones. Carbon dating revealed that the heads date back to 490 AD and were made by early Iron Age people. Similar clay heads were later found in the Sabie region as well as Natal, suggesting that they were used in a widely-accepted social ritual.

Two large and five smaller heads make up the Lydenburg find. They are made from the clay used to make household pottery, and the same manufacturing techniques were employed. The only difference is that the opening is in the base and the shape is elongated. The purpose of the heads is obscure. The larger heads might have been used as masks. They were probably used during initiation ceremonies.

Lydenburg is on the R540 northeast of Belfast, which is on the N4 east of Middelburg, which is at the intersection of the N4 with the N11. A Coetzee, 1993 AWLydenburg

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Last update: 2014-05-14 01:25
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.4

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