Rare artefacts discovered in Polihali dam basin

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By Kefiloe Kajane

The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) has announced that an ongoing archaeological excavations by PGS Heritage – a consultancy firm contracted to develop and implement the Cultural Heritage Management Plan under Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project reached a significant milestone on 17 November 2021 when an intact pot dating back to the 19th century was discovered.

According to a statement from the LHDA, the rare discovery of a whole pot found in an upside-down position was made during an excavation works at a site locally known as Langalibalele’s Shelter, at Ha Rafolatsane, along the Sehonghong River in the Mokhotlong district. The excavations extend 3 metres below the surface to bedrock and is the deepest Later Stone Age site excavated in Lesotho to date.

“Previous excavations in the 27 archaeological sites under study and mitigated by PGS Heritage, had only unearthed pieces of pottery, thus making the discovery of a whole intact pot a rare find. Another exciting discovery during the excavation of Langalibalele’s Shelter is the unearthing of at least 240 stone arrowheads. Such a tally has never been recorded from any known Later Stone Age context in the southern African interior.

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“We are excited about the latest rare discoveries made under this cultural heritage contract. Our aim with the ongoing studies is to conserve the cultural heritage finds for future generations,” said Gerard Mokone, the LHDA Polihali operations branch manager.

Besides the Archaeological Baseline Study commissioned by the LHDA in 2013 and the subsequent Cultural Heritage Plan currently being developed and implemented by PGS Heritage, the Polihali area has seen very little previous archaeological research.