Mzinyashana Shelters 1 and 2: excavation of mid and late Holocene deposits in the eastern Biggarsberg, Thukela Basin, South Africa
In this paper, I present the results of the excavation of two shelters on the bank of the Mzinyashana stream in the eastern Biggarsberg. Mzinyashana 1, first occupied shortly before 4000 years ago, continued to be occupied into the second millennium AD. The site was inhabited primarily by hunter-gatherers, but I propose that the 800-650 b.p. occupation was by agriculturists. The 1000-800 b.p. deposits contain a mix of remains which suggest occupation by both hunter-gatherers and agriculturists.
The continued occupation of Mzinyashana 1 following the abandonment of the nearby site of Maqonqo Shelter shortly after 4000 b.p., provides support for the view that Maqonqo's abandonment was associated with a loss of status of the site which coincided with the emergence of several social regions in the Thukela Basin.
Considering the position of Mzinyashana 1 in the hypothesised Thukela Basin 4000-2000 b.p. social region scheme, I conclude that this site displays close similarities to sites to the north of the Thukela River, and differences from those to the south. I do not, however, place the site in one of the existing social regions as the proposed scheme is under review.