African History

Archaeological Evidence Proves That Africans Were First To Engage In Mining 43,000 Years Ago

Archaeological Evidence Proves That Africans Were First To Engage In Mining 43,000 Years AgoArchaeological Evidence Proves That Africans Were First To Engage In Mining 43,000 Years Ago
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Archaeological Evidence Proves That Africans Were First To Engage In Mining 43,000 Years Ago

Evidence recently uncovered, has pointed to the likelihood that black Africans were likely the primary humans to interact in mining around 43,000 years ago. Deposits of minerals at Ngwenya Mine, located on the northwestern border of Swaziland in southern Africa, were worked on a minimum of 42,000 years before this present day. The critical minerals extracted were likely red haematite and specularite (sparkling ores).

Polished specularite | Source- Creative Outlet
Polished specularite | Source- Creative Outlet

The civilization and time during which these mines were used were of Middle Stone Age. The exotic African cultures flourished and spread in southern Africa for nearly 100,000 years, much until around 20,000 years ago. Much of the red ochre was later employed by this San (bushman) people of present-day Swaziland for his or her paintings.

Even the Swazi names of those pigments “libovu” (red ochre) and “ludumane” (sparkling ochre) are tips that could increase the likelihood of those mineral exploitations having started since prehistoric times.

Red ochre Sample On Stone
Red ochre Sample On Stone

Around 400AD, Bantu-speaking people arrived from north of the Limpopo River, the bulk of whom were agro-pastoralists who smelted ore. They went ahead to extract the ore using heaving iron hammers then traded the iron widely across the region.

In times, there’s an open cast mine that was created in 1964, where ore is mined. It signaled and catalyzed the economic and economic development of Swaziland. Much of the infrastructure, including the railway lines and electrical wiring, was established on the backbone of the open cast mining system. Also, the Matsapha Industrial Site development was an immediate result of the necessity to feed the open cast mine.

Considered one among the oldest mines on the earth, charcoal lumps, and molds from the mine site were sent for carbon dating in 1940. The result indicated they dated back to 43,000BC. However, there’s a robust possibility the mine itself might be older than the stated date. There’s growing evidence the ores were mined as early as 23,000BC.



Ngwenya Mine
Ngwenya Mine

Evidence of ancient mining tools found at the location indicates they were more specialized and foreign to those found at the Stone Age sites. These were choppers, picks and hammers cut from dolerite. The tools presently show clear evidence of early mining activities that were widely found even in rock paintings.

While the mine is of historical importance to the Swazi people, it also contains a history of early industrial development for the Southern African region. The mining of ore, which was also supplied to other parts of the area, led to a gradual change of tools within the region from stone to iron over time.

These mines function as a testament to a culture of mining that has disappeared within the modern age. Swaziland, therefore, celebrates and hold in high esteem nation who used their technological prowess to influence industrialization within the region even in prehistoric times the presence of the mine helped to lock the change from stone tools to iron also as encourage the extensive use of red ochre in rock art and paintings.

Comparison with Other Similar Mines
Though there are a plethora of other old mines around the world, like the pleasant Copper Mountain in Falun (Sweden) and therefore the Iwami Ginzan mine in Japan, all of them point to a far later period (13th and 16th century respectively), and that they all boasted of mining one single mineral.

Ngwenya, aside from dating back to around 43,000BC, is additionally renowned for being the location for the mining of such rare-earth as specularite, utilized in cosmetics across the region. The area also shows evidence of three mining activities, which is that the Lion Carven mine for specularite and red ochre, Castle carven for 400AD ore mining, and two open casts for the 1964-1977 modern ore mining.

Aerial View Of The Mines In Swaziland
Aerial View Of The Mines In Swaziland

It also shows that, long before the Europeans came with modern mining tools, black Africans have also perfected the art and science of mining. Finally, while earlier mines used such advanced tools as shovels, the mines at Ngwenya made ample use of choppers, hammers, and picks made up of dolerite.


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publishing since 2017.

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