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Art and Archaeology Question Answers

Select or identify an archaeological excavation currently being undertaken in any part of Africa and focus on the following:

The archaeological excavation that I have identified and is currently being undertaken in some parts of Africa is Excavations at Mlambalasi Rockshelter in the Iringa Region of southern Tanzania (Biittner et al., 2017).

Describe the cultural and historical background of the location.

Mlambalasi Rockshelter is well known for its famous historical and cultural background. Chief Mkwawa is one of the historical figures who is believed lived there, and the location represents the last stand of the historical leader. Chief Mkwawa was the supreme leader of the Hehe who reigned in the nineteenth century (Biittner et al., 2017). In the year 1898, the leader is believed to have escaped the German colonial army by hiding out in the Mlambalasi Rockshelter. Chief Mkwawa is also said to have in the end killed himself together with his remaining servant to evade arrest. Mlambalasi Rockshelter is a section of the larger site complex that contains a historical information center. Other notable features in the larger site complex include Mkwawa’s funeral monument and a freedom memorial monument.

How was the site identified?

The excavation site is believed to hold an extensive, stratified sequence from the Pleistocene Later Stone Age (LSA) to the recent Iron Age and historical period. It was until the year 2006 that the Iringa Region Archaeological Project (IRAP) carried out archaeological research in the area. The area was identified as a rich archaeological site in the inland of Tanzania that had not largely been given attention in well-known archaeological studies in the Tanzania region.

When did the excavation process start?

The exaction process at Mlambalasi Rockshelter commenced in the year 2006.

Describe the objects excavated from this site.

A fractional human skeleton was recovered relative to the LSA deposits in a primary context burial. However, only the lower part of the human skeleton was excavated at that period since the test pit bisected the body. Additionally, a small assortment of faunal remains, mainly archetypal of high-survival materials such as limbs, was also excavated. The rest of the human burial was recovered in 2010 when IRAP archaeological researchers returned to the Mlambalasi site.

What do these archaeological excavations reveal?

The Mlambalasi Rockshelter archaeological excavations revealed an unceasing, stratified sequence of occupation beneath the shelter outcropping and disturbed deposits on the exterior slope of the shelter.

Write your conclusion about these findings.

The Mlambalasi rock shelter site is special in its extensive archaeological sequence, rich material culture, and infrequent conservation of organic material such as the faunal and human remains. I think that the total number of rock shelters that have not been explored provides abundant prospects to excavate and discover well-preserved archaeological deposits dating back to thousands of years ago. The findings of the Mlambalasi rock shelter are just one of the many discoveries that help us understand the composition and the activities that were carried out by ancient people several years back within the historic area. In overall, the material culture that remains in the rock shelter indicates the recurring work and the importance of the Mlambalasi rock shelter in the historical period.


Biittner, K. M., Sawchuk, E. A., Miller, J. M., Werner, J. J., Bushozi, P. M., & Willoughby, P. R. (2017). Excavations at Mlambalasi Rockshelter: A Terminal Pleistocene to Recent Iron Age Record in Southern Tanzania. African Archaeological Review34(2), 275-295.



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