Toppieshoek – Broederstroom Archaeological site

The University of the Witwatersrand did excavations at the Toppieshoek Broederstroom archaeological site and discovered hut remains, grain stores, ore mining sites, potshards, graves with bones and personal belongings, iron kilns with blow pipes and ore heaps as well as stone heaps with symbolic and ritual meaning of the Early, as well as the Middle and Late Iron Age.

These excavations are documented and most of the artefacts are kept in the Wits University museum/archive. On the site the foundations of the buildings are still visible and there are a lot of artefacts or parts of, which stayed behind and can still be seen today. The ore mine and storage sites, as well as ritual stone heaps can also be seen. The site is a national monument.

Around 300 AD the first Early Iron Age people arrived in the Magaliesberg region from central Africa. These people were hunter-gatherers as well, but they also kept goats for milk and they planted crops on a small scale. They lived together in bigger groups.

These villages of round clay and lath-work huts were arranged around a central space, where the livestock was kept and the social life took place. The huts were of a hemisphere shape made out of clay and lath-work almost like a beehive with a low entrance. Some of the huts had clay or dung smeared floors, some floors were built on wooden constructions raised off the ground, possibly to keep the grain dry which was stored there. The Early Iron Age people also manufactured clay pots, which had a pink colour after it had been fired. The pots were decorated around the brims.

The reason why these people chose the particular spot was because iron ore was found on the surface. The ore was dug out and was reduced to iron with charcoal in clay ovens with bellow blown fires.

Around 600 AD another dry period started and the Early Iron Age people moved away.  Around 1100 AD the environmental conditions improved again, making living conditions favourable for the second group of people known as the Middle and Late Iron Age people from the north. This second group settled on the same site and they built their huts partially over those of the Early Iron Age people.  They had cattle and their huts consisted out of cylindrical walls of lath-work and clay with conical roofs of poles and grass. Their town layout and social structure was more or less the same as that of the Early Iron Age people.

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