Red haematite and specularite were probably the minerals mined by the early men in Africa. The archaeological discoveries were made at the Ngwenya Mine, which is located on the northern border of Eswatini (Swaziland) in Southern Africa.
The data implies that 43,000 years ago, prehistoric men in Africa engaged in mining. According to 54 History, the evidence suggests that the mining activity took place during the Middle Stone Age.
Mining knowledge was passed down via generations in southern Africa around 100,000 years ago. One of the deposits, red ochre, was widely utilized for painting by the San people of modern-day Swaziland.
According to the researchers, the Swazi names of those paintings, such as libovu and ludumane, which mean red ochre and sparkling ochre, respectively, indicate that mining in those areas existed for a longer period of time than the dating analysis indicated.
Archaeologists are linking ore smelting in that location to Bantu-speaking people who moved north of the Limpopo River approximately 400 A.D. Using iron hammers to extract ore from these minerals, which they exchanged for iron, was one of the activities the Bantu-speaking people engaged in. Despite the fact that they were mostly agro-pastoralists, iron was critical to their daily sustenance in the region.
The discovery of an open-cast mine in 1964 demonstrates the importance of mining to Swaziland’s economy. This resulted in the development of infrastructure such as railway lines and electrical wiring to enable mining activity. According to the researchers, the presence of the Matsapha Industrial Site development was due to the urgent need to ensure the open-cast mine’s survival.
According to archaeologists, Swaziland’s mines are the world’s oldest mining pits. Molds and charcoal lumps from the mine were dated in 1940 and determined to be 43,000 years old. They believe the mine could be much older than the date provided by the scientific analysis because new evidence suggests that the ores from there were mined as early as 23,000 years ago.
The artifacts found at the mining site, according to the experts, show that early men were technologically inclined in how they fashioned and structured the tools. Picks and hammers constructed of dolerite, as well as choppers discovered in rock drawings in the area, were among the tools used.
The history of mining in Swaziland also demonstrates how industrial growth piqued the region’s attention. Early miners refined their tools of work from stone to iron over time, allowing them to successfully mine ore from pits.
Historians argue that while mining culture has died out among Swazis, it does not negate the fact that prehistoric men were predisposed to industrial growth and the development of tools to sustain that social change.