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A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Lidar Survey Reveals Size of Pre-Colonial City in Southern Africa

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA—Live Science reports that a team of researchers led by archaeologist Karim Sadr of the University of the Witwatersrand has created a map of the ruined city of Kweneng using lidar technology. Located in what is now the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve, Kweneng is thought to have been built by the Tswana, whose descendants still live in the region. The site, which is covered by a thick layer of vegetation, was discovered during an aerial survey in 1968. The new study indicates that it includes three times as many structures as previously thought. Sadr and his team estimate the city was founded in the fifteenth century and occupied into the nineteenth century, based on the architectural style of the structures. The researchers note that at the city’s peak in the early nineteenth century, it contained between 800 and 900 stone-walled compounds, each of which may have housed several families. To read about another recent discovery in South Africa, go to “Oldest Sketch,” which was one of ARCHAEOLOGY's Top Ten Discoveries of 2018.

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