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Isandlwana Archaeology
Keith Smith


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 540
Location: Northern NSW, Australia
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Does anyone have any idea as to how one might acquire copies of any reports on the archaeological investigation which was carried out on the battlefield at Isandlwana? Which university, if any, was involved? Has any report been published? This topic might have been raised before but having read material relating to the battle of the Little Big Horn, it seems that there is ample scope for a similar investigation there.

KIS
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Michael Boyle


Joined: 12 Dec 2005
Posts: 595
Location: Bucks County,PA,US
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I've been trying to follow up on this for a couple of years now and have failed to turn up anything in the literature (Anthro-Arch being an old love of mine). Working through the University of Pennsylvania, Penn State Univ. and University of Colorado, none of my current contacts have been able to come up with anything substantial either, even in the way of field reports. It could be that after six years the dig we're anticipating wasn't exactly an intensive project. However here's a link you can pursue :

http://www.battlefieldarchaeology.arts.gla.ac.uk/cba_course.html

The joint directors were Glasgow's Dr Tony Pollard and Amafa’s Len van Schalkwyk, the project historian was Ian Knight and Channel 4 seems to have had a hand in it as well. As the Isandlwana battlefield seems to have been only one of many on their list it seems the project could be more appropiately termed a survey thus nothing of note would have been published. Hopefully though I've missed something.

MAB
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Keith Smith


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 540
Location: Northern NSW, Australia
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Thanks Mike

I remember the television program very well, notably for Ian Knight's bashing of an ammunition box. I was sorry to find that the program concentrated rather on such sensational matters, to the detriment of any serious archaeology. I have sent a note off to Dr Pollard and will let you know off site of any response from him.

I have also posted a second topic following on from further information given in this excellent book : Richard Allan Fox, Archaeology, History and Custer's Last Battle, 1993.


KIS
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Peter Quantrill
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I have been in touch with AMAFA on the subject. They controlled and authorised the project.
The initial report submitted to them was inadequate and the maps supplied not sufficiently detailed.
AMAFA are still awaiting a satisfactory response and have not received any further proposals to continue the dig.
Rich
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Just a comment...In a way simply because of the topic and interest in the Anglo-Zulu Wars I would've expected more archaeological work at the battlfields in South Africa. On the other hand, I suspect that there are other more pernicious factors at work here and that plainly looks at outright desecration and stealing of artifacts from the battle sites. Dr. Pollard himself notes that it is happening more and more at Scottish battlefields where the sites are plundered simply for illicit gain. Louden Hill was one of the places getting a rough going. From all this, I guess opening up new sites for examination and study just invites trouble from the bad guys. This is unfortunate and I hope the situation doesn't go out of control.
I know archaeological boards are aware of this problem around the world.
The Double D


Joined: 20 Jul 2006
Posts: 32
Location: Staying Umhlanga for 2 to 5 years in route to Cut Bank, Montana
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Wasn't the latest Big Horn Battlefield archaeological investigation brought about becasue a wildfire expose alot of material and the researce and collection was done to preserve it.

I know I saw the Battlefield Detectives program on the History Channel on the investigation. They used modern Crime scene investigative techniques to trace indvidual weapons movement around the battlefield.

Might be interesting to see what such a study showed at Isandlwana.

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DD
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Rich
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Peter:
From what I could gather, Dr. Pollard also went to do some archaeological work at Eshowe.

DoubleD: Yes, there was a brush fire at the LBH battle site a number of years ago exposing alot of ground and the resulting analysis of those sites enabled some startling new interpretations to come out on the battle. At this point, I'm not sure how much work is going on at LBH battlefield though. I don't think Isandhlwana had big fires but it sure would be interesting to see what the effects would turn up under all that ground.
Peter Quantrill
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Keith,
You are quite right. The Eshowe dig was under the same umbrella and mandate of the Isandlwana dig and the remarks made in my previous posting apply.
Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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Rich

Depends on how big the "big fires" are, I suppose. There have certainly been grassfires at Isandlwana since the battle and they apparently swept right up to the crag itself, although I suppose a huge modern "wildfire" is really what is needed (for archaeological purposes, anyway!) Not sure what the present inhabitants would have to say about that. Smile

I suspect that all the AZW battlefields have been swept by fire many times since 1879, especially in the first quarter of a century or so after that war. The grasslands were burnt off annually - at exactly this time of year as it happens - in huge fires which could be seen for many miles, as this was the traditional and usual method used by the Zulu to enable the grass to renew.

You may be familiar with Mitford's description of the grave of Shepstone under the western slope a couple of years or so after the battle. Because it had been walled off it survived the annual grassfires and stood out among the black surroundings.

In August 1898, writing from Isandlwana, Gregory Mpiwa Ngcobo says: "...we are emerging from winter into spring; our peach trees are just beginning to bloom and last night we saw a large fire burning across the plain. That is the way we get rid of the old grass so that we may have green grass ..."

I suspect quite a lot of surviving junk got a good scorching annually for some while in the vicinity of Isandlwana, suggesting one must be very careful in assessing any finds, especially as many items would have been rendered suddenly visible and therefore vulnerable to movement or entire removal. Obviously, this also goes for all the other battle sites in Zululand, especially those on grassy plains.

Peter
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Rich
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You know I think it's evident that there's been much more archaeological study relatively speaking of the LBH battle as compared to AZW sites. Is this overview correct and why or am I just a bit off the pace since I'm here in North America? Maybe there are unpublished tomes sitting somehwere in South Africa? There just seems to be a paucity of work in the public area.
Keith Smith


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 540
Location: Northern NSW, Australia
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Shortly after I posted this thread, I wrote to Dr Tony Pollard asking about any reports of his work at Isandlwana. To date, I have received no reply.

For my part, I believe that an investigation similar to that at LBH in 1985 could prove most interesting and instructive. I would have thought that a South African universtity would be best suited to undertake the work, although I am not sure that they would have the expertise that is available in USA and Europe.

KIS
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Rich
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I agree too Keith on the investigation. I would love to read stuff along those lines. Btw, in following up your reference to Dr.Pollard I found out that he's established the first world battlefield archaeology center up in his neck of the woods at Glasgow University. He appears to be very much involved in examining sites around the world for archaeological investigations. (I guess that could be why you haven't received anything yet). I know he does work in Scotland and looked at Bannockburn and Culloden and other battle sites. From the looks of it, he's very concerned that modern developments can erode battlefields and seeks to protect them.
Eshowe
Simon Rosbottom


Joined: 14 Jun 2006
Posts: 287
Location: London, UK
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Looks like Tony Pollard is digging at Eshowe.

This on the BBC yesterday.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/Scotland/5270322.stm

Regards

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Simon
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Peter Quantrill
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Dr.Pollard almost certainly is not at Eshowe. The report quoted is as a result of the dig done a few years ago and conducted at the same time as the Isandlwana dig.
To renew the dig would require the permission of AMAFA and this, AMAFA's CEO informs me, has not been given.
Isandlwana Archeology
Chris


Joined: 01 Feb 2007
Posts: 180
Location: S.A.
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Hi All ,

Just a further update to this topic.

I was lucky enough to be at the 130th Commemoration and attended the conference on the Monday.
One of the speakers was Arthur Konigkramer from AMAFA.
He mentioned in his speeech that he was keen to see a proper archeological dig done at Isandlwana using modern methods.

He seems to be looking at the Little BigHorn scenario and the work done there. I
asked him what sort of team he would be looking at and I gather that this would be something of an International flavour Question

But it is all "vaporware" at the present -- still who knows Question


I have also been struggling to find any sort of academic paper report covering the first dig at Isandlawana.
The locals seem to be pretty confused about what actually went on there and even who did what.
I am taking a chance here -- does not seem like this was any sort of "proper" dig and that is why everyone connected is lying low Question ( Reputations to protect and all that )

Any one have any idea why a planned five year project came to an ubrupt end Question Question


Battlefield Archeology and Historical GIS have come on though , and I noticed a publication "Fields of Battle" Peter Doyle and Mathew Bennett

At US$256 I will NOT be getting a copy any time soon Crying or Very sad

There is a link given earlier referencing the battlefield archeolgy dept at Glasgow so I will not repeat that here


Chris
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Isandlwana Archaeology
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