page 1
page 2
page 3
page 4
page 5
page 6
page 7
page 8
page 9
page 10
page 11
page 12
page 13
page 14
page 15
page 16
page 17
page 18
page 19
page 20
page 21
page 22
page 23
page 24
page 25
page 26
page 27
page 28
page 29
page 30
page 31
page 32
page 33
page 34
page 35
page 36
page 37
page 38
page 39
page 40
page 41
page 42
page 43
page 44
page 45
page 46
page 47
page 48
page 49
page 50
page 51
page 52
page 53
page 54
page 55
page 56
page 57
page 58
page 59
page 60
page 61
page 62
page 63
page 64
page 65
page 66
page 67
page 68

November 2007 Travel Zambia 35 Interview and other unwelcome visitors, then set up the equipment and sun shade. Before digging, the students get a briefing from me on the goals of the day. Any geographers or other specialists may also explain their plans: the students are there to learn, not just dig. There is no tea break, just a quick mid-morning stretch, a 30-minute lunch, and then we work through until about 4.30 – packing up in time to drop the scout back before dark. Back at camp we grab showers and maybe a sundowner at the bar. After dinner, when the students are entertaining themselves, I write up my notes. Bedtime looms at 9-ish. The students, of course, carry on entertaining themselves. What challenges do you encounter? You name it: tsetse flies, local politics, punctures – and don’t even ask about the student food fads! Elephants, especially, keep us on our toes; these monsters are terrifying and fascinating in equal measure, and I have great respect for the local community who have to live alongside them. What do you most enjoy about your work? People, mostly: especially working with students and colleagues, and explaining our work to local people. Archaeology is ultimately about people, and that’s something too often forgotten in the excitement of the next ‘great find’. Also, problem-solving: each day brings the unexpected, and draws on my mental and physical reserves in ways I’d rarely find behind a university desk. How do you see the future of archaeology in Zambia? Archaeological research in Zambia is still in its infancy. But interest and expertise are growing: Zambia’s National Heritage Conservation Commission now oversees all our work; and its head, Donald Chikumbi, worked with me at Mumbwa Caves and has a Cambridge MA in archaeology. The University of Zambia doesn’t yet offer archaeology as a degree, but it is integrated into the teaching of history and I’m hopeful that a new generation of Zambian archaeologists will emerge to take things forward. Why do Zambians need to know about their prehistory? I was at the bottom of a trench this season when a man appeared from the woods and asked me what I was up to. I clambered up, dusted myself down, introduced the crew, and then explained that we were excavating an old village site, perhaps 2,000 years old. ‘We need to know about this,’ he beamed, ‘it is our history.’ I explained that farming people had once lived here alongside hunter-gatherers – either descendants of Bushmen or Pygmies. ‘That is a wonderful story,’ he mused, ‘people living in harmony.’ He then asked where our artefacts would be on display, because he and his family would like to see them and learn from them. What more can I say? How are you getting your message across? I have been on Zambian television and given local talks, but these things only reach a few people. I’m now working on a general book about the prehistory of the country, which I hope will be accessible to everyone, from school children to tourists. I’m also working to raise the $500,000 needed to build a heritage centre in the Luangwa Valley, which will be a resource for the local community as well as for visitors. This is a priority for me: to give something back to the local community who have allowed me, literally, to dig into their past. What next? Climate change is a big issue facing us all. I’m now thinking about how understanding the past can help future generations plan for changes to come. With the help of my geographer colleagues I’d like to develop a detailed record of environmental change over the past 20,000 years or so and look at how people have responded – particularly in northern Zambia, which receives the highest rainfall in the country and could play a critical future role in supplying water and food to other areas. The past and the present are inextricably linked and we should be bold in drawing the two together. To me archaeology isn’t a luxury, but an essential part in our knowledge of how we came to be and of our place in Nature. We can choose to use this knowledge or ignore it. 1900: hunter-gatherers assimilated/disappear from Luangwa Valley 1600-1800AD: Bisa and Kunda peoples arrive in Luangwa Valley; modern chiefdoms formed 1100AD: Later Iron Age; development of chiefdoms; trade contacts with Indian Ocean 100–200AD: Early Iron Age, first farmers arrive in Luangwa Valley 25,000 years ago to 1900 AD: Later Stone Age hunter-gatherers; rock art 300,000–25,000 years ago: Middle Stone Age; evolution of Homo sapiens ~2 million years ago: Early Stone Age; first stone tools in Luangwa Valley; early human ancestors Zambia’s prehistory in brief MIKE UNWIN A shallow dig in the Luangwa soil reveals the outline of an iron-age cooking pot. All the soil removed from the dig is carefully sifted to check for shell beads and other telltale fragments. MIKE UNWIN