The ceramics and distribution of pioneer agriculturists in KwaZulu-Natal


  • G. Whitelaw Natal Museum
  • M. A. Moon


The paper describes excavations on four Matola phase Early Iron Age sites in the Mngeni valley, KwaZulu-Natal. With the exception of these and one other site, currently-recorded Matola sites in KwaZulu-Natal are restricted to within six kilometres of the coast. Researchers have interpreted this pattern as indicative of an economy based on mussel harvesting and slash-and-burn agriculture on the forested Pleistocene dunes. However, the inland location of the Mngeni valley sites suggested that the variables considered to govern Matola site location needed re-assessment. The paper suggests that Matola site location was determined primarily by availability of iron ore, arable soil and the resources of wooded environments. Matola settlement in KwaZulu-Natal also may have occurred under climatic constraints which precluded occupation of the more arid inland valleys. Analysis of Early Iron Age ceramics and dates refines the chronological gap between the Matola and Msuluzi phases, and reveals a stylistic disjunction that supports the contention that Matola and Msuluzi belong to different ceramic traditions.

To cite this article: Whitelaw, G. & Moon, M. 1996. The ceramics and distribution of pioneer agriculturists in KwaZulu-Natal. Natal Museum Journal of Humanities8: 53-79.



How to Cite

Whitelaw, G., & Moon, M. A. (2021). The ceramics and distribution of pioneer agriculturists in KwaZulu-Natal. Southern African Humanities, 8, 53–79. Retrieved from