Zambian Ancestors from the Stone Age

The Stone Age era and the Zambian early man can easily be traced from archaeological records. The Victoria Falls Field Museum has records depicting the first people in Zambia. The records show that the early man in Zambia had settled in many places within the country.

The Victoria Falls site has abundant Stone Age artefacts of Oldwan Industry. There is also evidence of the succeeding ones. Their artefacts laid down by the Zambezi River were found left high and dry by the cutting down of the river. These objects have been found up and downstream of the Victoria Falls.

Other earliest forms of human life have been obtained at Kalambo Falls near Mbala in the Northern Province of Zambia. Kalambo Falls is just about the highest in the world. It has a continuous uninterrupted 221-metre drop, a marvel of Zambian tourism It would appear the fascination the waterfalls have on people today was the same or even greater for our ‘forefathers.’

At Kalambo Falls a number of undisturbed camping places of the terminal Archeulian have been excavated there. They date back to 60,000 years ago. The use of fire is evident by the archaeological dig find of charcoal logs on some of the 'living' floors.

It is clear that by this time, 60,000 years ago, man had already begun the regular use of fire. And these people were really 'safari hunters'. They could not enjoy raw meat. Wow! Man was already enjoying roasted, barbecued, or as the South Africans would say, "braiied" meat from the fruit of hunting wildlife.

Another site of interest is located at 130 kilometres north of Lusaka and in the middle of Zambia. This is Kabwe, the first mining town in the country. Mining of lead and zinc started around the turn of the last century, to be exact, in 1902.

This was just before the Cecil Rhodes’ railroad, then known as “From Cape to Cairo” arrived there. This early settlement, a former mining town, was named Broken Hill after an Australian mine. It was renamed “Kabwe” after Zambia’s independence from Britain in 1964. In Bemba, one of Zambia’s major languages, “Kabwe” means a stone.

In 1921 and deep in the cave of Broken Hill mine they found the skull of Broken Hill Man. Today his skull is still enjoying the residence and the British hospitality in Her Majesty’s museum. The Broken Hill Man’s skill was very similar to homo rhodensiensis and may also have belonged to the terminal stages of Archeulian industry.

This is really our ancestor. Why? The Broken Hill Man of Kabwe resembles modern man more than he does homo rhodensiensis. Another resemblance of the modern man is also observed in the earliest burials at Mumbwa Caves near Mumbwa town located 200 kilometres west of Lusaka.

These caves date back to between 26,000 to 20,000 years ago. Mumbwa, by the way, is the gateway to the Zambezi Floodplain where annually the colourful Kuomboka Ceremony of the Lozi people takes place at the height of the rainy season.

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