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Long lost African city discovered

Laser light technology helps to redraw ancient ruins in South Africa

Along the lower western Suikerbosrand hills near Johannesburg, a large Tswana settlement has been redrawn with advanced laser light technology. Settlements like this have dotted the landscape in the northern parts of South Africa long before the first European settlers came in contact with the Tswana speaking inhabitants of the area.

Johannesburg is today the biggest city and main economic centre of South Africa, the most powerful country in Africa.

Archeologists from the University of Witwatersrand had already discovered some of the ruins in the area, however, the extent of this huge settlement had been unclear sofar.

Although the size of the population is still unknown, the scientists know that each of the homesteads housed one male head of the family, as well as one or more wives and several children.

"In the 1820s all these Tswana city states collapsed in what became known as the Difeqane civil wars. Some had never been documented in writing and their oral histories had gone unrecorded."

The Difqane civil wars dispersed and destroyed many Nguni tribes living in Southern Africa between 1750 and 1850. The Nguni words Difqane or mfecane mean 'uprooting' and relate to the forced migration of many indigenous settlers.

Among the causes for the civil war were a massive population growth as well as droughts. A growing population in the many groups that ruled in southern Africa led to competition among the various kingdoms and tribes. They competed for land for their cattle as well as in trading ivory and other resources with Portuguese settlers.

image: Karim Sadr, Professor of Geography at the University of the Witwatersrand


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