Human Skeletons Unearthed in Victoria Falls

by Patrick Chitumba

TWO Iron Age skeletons believed to have been buried between 9-1100AD and now between 600-700 years old have been discovered in the resort town of Victoria Falls.

The skeletons were discovered by contractors who were excavating land to set up an Econet wireless base station near A 'Zambezi River Lodge, about 100 metres from the banks of the mighty Zambezi River.

In an interview at the site, the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe chief archaeologist, Mr Tungamirai Chipunza, said preliminary findings point out that one of the skeletons was of a full grown adult.

He said they were still to confirm the status of the other skeleton.

“I can confirm that the skeletons are from the Iron Age. The skeletons were discovered in two separate holes and could have been buried between 9-1100AD. There is evidence that there could have been settlers along the river.

“In the graves were artifacts that included pots, iron bangles and a piece of a smoking pipe,” he said.

“This is a base station for Econet. Contractors excavating accidentally hit the graves at 110metres.

“In the first hole, they did not see that they had hit a grave and scooped the bones and skull outside. However, on the second hole, they quickly noticed the second skeleton and immediately stopped digging.”

Mr Chipunza said the iron bangles were not joined as the endings are crossing each other.

“These bangles are similar to bangles we have in the museum and they relate to this period when the people then were wearing iron bangles. After that period people started wearing copper and bronze bangles.

“So this is an archaeological grave and we are going to thoroughly analyse every thing we find here. Using today's technology we want to go and put a face to the skeletons and see what they really looked like.”

Mr Chipunza said the second grave could have been for a man because there is a smoking pipe, which he said was decorated with a head of an arrow.

“This means that the person could have been a hunter. Today's Tonga and Nambya people decorate their articles and even utility articles meaning that tradition has been theirs since the late early Iron Age,” he said.

Mr Chipunza said because of the nature of the ground, which is rocky, drainage was very good.

“When a person is buried in this area, all bodily fluids drain and the skeleton is well preserved,” he said.

Mr Chipunza said Victoria Falls had evidence of early Stone Age sites along the Zambezi River

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