KwaZulu-Natal Museum (KZNM)

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Authorized form of name

KwaZulu-Natal Museum (KZNM)

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  • National

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Street address

237 Jabu Ndlovu Street




KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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+27 33 345 1401


+27 33 345 0561



Description area


[Source – Chloe Rushovich for FHYA , 2018, using a ‘Natal Museum’s Archaeological Collections: A History’, written by Valerie Ward and the KwaZulu-Natal Museum website: The KwaZulu-Natal Museum in Pietermaritzburg first opened to the public in November 1904, and was then known as the Natal Government Museum. In 1948 the older natural history departments of the museum were joined by the humanities departments of archaeology, cultural history, and ethno-archaeology. Divisions between these three departments were often blurred, with archaeology becoming the department studying precolonial history while cultural history dealt with later European and ‘Zulu’ history and materials. Ethno-archaeology looked at contemporary ‘Zulu people’ in an effort to understand their past. Prior to 1951 all cultural material was accessioned in one accession register. Sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s, the Department of Ethno-Archaeology was subsumed into the Department of Archaeology. Currently the Museum has separate Archaeological Collections and Anthropological Collections.

The Archaeological Collections include an Early Stone Age collection gathered mainly by the late Professor Oliver Davies; Middle Stone Age material consisting mostly of surface artefacts; a Later Stone Age collection generated principally from excavations, especially those by Aron Mazel in the Thukela Basin; the Bushman Rock Art archive; an Early Iron Age collection, which includes excavated material and data from six key sites; a Late Iron Age collection, which includes material derived from excavations, examples of Iron Age rock engravings and photographs, and copies of rock engravings; sixteenth-century Portuguese shipwreck material, which specifically includes material from the São João (1552, Port Edward), the São Bento (1554, Msikaba river mouth) and the Santiago (1585, Bassas da India, Mozambique Channel); and a limited collection of Roman and classical artefacts.

The Anthropological Collections encompass beadwork, woodcarvings, ceramics, and weaponry mostly from the KZN region. There is a small collection of nineteenth-century items associated with Zulu royalty, viz. ceramic vessels and four strings of wooden beads, iziqu, apparently awarded for valour in battle. A well-documented assemblage of headrests, milk pails and meat platters from Msinga in KwaZulu-Natal makes up the Jolles Collection, gathered by museum research associate Professor Frank Jolles in the 1990s. The Musuem also has a well-documented collection of Southern Sotho material culture, including an assemblage of 30 rare Southern Sotho ceramic pieces dating to the early 1900s; a collection of West African material culture, including a set of Ashanti gold weights from Ghana, and woodcarvings such as masks; African textile collection from beyond the provincial borders; colonial Victoriana of KwaZulu-Natal, which formed the basis of the exhibits portraying aspects of life in Victorian Pietermaritzburg.items and weaponry relating to the Anglo-Zulu War;the Amandla Collection of material associated with the anti-apartheid struggle (banners, T-shirts, caps, buttons, and documents); video recording and film of "living culture" (rituals, dances, oral data etc).]

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Primary contact

237 Jabu Ndlovu Street
Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa 3021