Prof Conard said he and his team were in the process of completing their 8th season (of annual visits) at Sibudu. He and a select number of students excavate six days a week, while the rest of the team processes the finds at a rented house in Ballito. All tools are washed and sorted and then catalogued. Experts in stone tool technology and use-wear analysis study artefacts with powerful microscopes, to determine how they were made and what they were used for.

Conard reports that the remains of fauna and flora are remarkably preserved in the Sibudu deposit, and that experts in his team are also on hand to study them.




Professor Lyn Wadley at Sibudu. Slide by Prof. N. Conard






Prof Conard added that excavations had produced exceptional finds such as the first bone arrowhead ever found. Residue analyses had revealed compound adhesives, made up of ground ochre, tree resin and animal fats, were used for hafting stone points onto ‘handles. The lithic technology had shown pressure flaking as well as heat treatment of rock, which eased knapping. Perforated shells, used for stringing necklaces for personal ornamentation had been found, as well a wide range of bone implements. The technology used in the MSA was indicative of the cognitive ability of the people at that time, showing that they were capable of abstract thought and able to plan and reason.


Professor Conard and his team have renamed the post-Howiesons Poort assemblage the Sibudan technocomplex. The tools they have identified in this sequence show evidence of sophisticated knapping associated with technological innovations. They have named them the Tongati and Ndwedwe tools.



Characteristic tools from the Sibudan assemblages of Holley Shelter.



1-4 = Tongati tools;



5-8 = Ndwedwe tools;



9-11 = Splintered pieces.

5-11 modified after Bader et al. 2015 Tongati and Ndewdwe


Research of Sibudu has been undertaken in isolation and Conard says the aim of the Tübingen team is to provide a key chrono-stratigraphic sequence for the MSA  of KZN. Finds from other MSA sites such as Holley Shelter, Umbeli Belli and Umhlatuzana could fit into this sequence or alternatively refine and amend the behavioural patterns seen at Sibudu

Article on SIBUDU in March edition of Popular Archaeology





Present Status of the Sibudu Cave Site:

Sibudu has not yet been proclaimed as a National Heritage Site – this is in the pipeline.


The Sibudu Trust has purchased the core site, about 4 hectares, from the farmers who own the land.

While this is a step in the right direction, it does not provide space for any educational facilities, such as an interpretative centre/museum nor protection for the beautiful riverine surroundings.

We will continue with our aims as set out in our constitution, which include:

  • helping to preserve the Sibudu archaeological site as well as the environment of the surroundings of Sibudu – and promoting ecological awareness, as it is a site of special natural beauty;
  • encouraging and assisting with educational projects that are related to the site, both for adults and young people
  •  and promoting responsible, ethical tourism concerning this heritage site


Special Educational Projects by Friends of Sibudu Association


Another workshop for educators, on activities that teach Grade 5 learners about life in the Middle Ages, will be held on the 19th April.  This follows on the successful workshop for educators last year.

Participants will learn to plait grass-snares, thread shells, paint with “ochre” (kaolin), make hunter-gatherer skin bags, haft stones onto sticks to make hammers, and so on.

This project is done voluntarily by members of FoS, and we use membership fees to help defray expenses.

(NB Members please pay your fees!  Not a member? There is a membership form below and do have a look at our website for more information!)


We have asked the Durban Museum if we can collaborate on educational activities.


Each year we arrange for talks at local schools, by members of the Archaeologist team that is excavating the Sibudu Site.