Archaeological study discovers rare artefacts in the Polihali dam basin

Archaeological study discovers rare artefacts in the Polihali dam basin
Archaeological study discovers rare artefacts in the Polihali dam basin

Africa-Press – Lesotho. The ongoing archaeological excavations by PGS Heritage; a consultancy firm contracted to develop and implement the Cultural Heritage Management Plan under Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project reached

a significant milestone on 17 November 2021 when an intact pot dating back to the 19th century was discovered. The rare discovery of a whole pot found in an upside-down position was made during an

excavation works at a site locally known as Langalibalele’s Shelter, at Ha Rafolatsane, along the Sehonghong River in the Mokhotlong district. The excavations extend 3 metres below the surface to bedrock and is the deepest

Later Stone Age site excavated in Lesotho to date. Previous excavations in the 27 archaeological sites under study and mitigated by PGS Heritage, had only unearthed pieces of pottery, thus making the discovery of a

whole intact pot a rare find. Another exciting discovery during the excavation of Langalibalele’s Shelter is the unearthing of at least 240 stone arrowheads.

Such a tally has never been recorded from any known Later Stone Age context in the southern African interior. “We are excited about the latest rare discoveries made under this cultural heritage contract.

Our aim with the ongoing studies is to conserve the cultural heritage finds for future generations,” states Gerard Mokone, the LHDA Polihali Operations Branch

Manager. Besides the Archaeological Baseline Study commissioned by the LHDA in 2013 and the subsequent Cultural Heritage Plan currently being developed and

implemented by PGS Heritage, the Polihali area has seen very little previous archaeological research. While heritage conservation initiatives across the world too often focus on tangible aspects

of heritage, the on-going cultural heritage programme also records the intangible aspects of heritage; such as sites of spiritual, cultural and historical

significance including sacred pools (likoetsa), initiation lodges (mephato), and battlefields Thus the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority through its cultural programe contributes significantly by protecting the cultural heritage resources for future generations. This also provides a basis for future research.




The Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) is a multi-phased, multi-billion Maloti/Rand project between the Governments of the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa.

It comprises water transfer and hydropower generation components with associated ancillary developments. The water transfer component entails the construction of dams and tunnels in Lesotho, enhancing the use of water from

the Senqu (Orange) River and its tributaries by storing, regulating, diverting and controlling the flow to effect the delivery of specified quantities of

water to South Africa, and utilizing the delivery system to generate hydro-electric power in Lesotho. The major works of Phase I included the construction

of the Katse Dam, the transfer and delivery tunnels, Matsoku Weir, ‘Muela Hydropower Plant and the Mohale Dam. The Phase II water transfer component comprises a dam at Polihali and a gravity tunnel that will connect the

reservoir at Polihali with the Katse reservoir. The further feasibility studies for the hydropower component of Phase II have concluded that conventional

hydropower is the more feasible option to meet Lesotho’s energy needs. Three potential sites were identified: two on the Senqu River and a third site at

Oxbow on the Malibamats’o River. The plan is to commission the selected option at the same time as the Water Transfer component, which is 2027. The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) is

the implementing and management authority of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, on behalf of the government of Lesotho. For additional information, please contact: The Public Relations Manager on +266 22246000 or [email protected] org. ls or [email protected] org. ls or visit www. lhda. org. ls

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