In March 2020, I had the opportunity to visit Umbeli Beli, a rock shelter located in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa with archaeological deposits spanning from the Middle Stone Age, until today. The site is excavated by a team from Tuebingen University lead by Nicholas Conard and Gregor Bader.
I am very fortunate to be involved in the study of the stratigraphy and Site Formation Processes in Umbeli Beli. Working together with Chris Miller, I will be looking at micromorphological thin sections of the site. The purpose of my latest site visit was to inspect the stratigraphy macroscopically and to acquire some more micromorphological samples. In addition, I had the chance to see archaeological finds from the excavation and become familiar with the raw materials.
Umbeli Beli is located within close proximity to Umhlatuzana, they are both developed on similar lithologies (Natal Sandstones/Quartzites), and they occupy a similar archaeological time span (Middle Stone Age, Later Stone Age, Iron Age). A comparison between the two sites, both from a geoarchaeological and archaeological perspective, will be very interesting and informative!
Though short, my Umbeli Beli visit was amazing and full of awesome memories. Hopefully, I will be able to visit or work with the excavation team again in the future.
More info on the Umbeli Beli research:
Bader, G.D., Cable, C., Lentfer, C., Conard, N.J. (2016). Umbeli Belli Rock Shelter, a forgotten piece from the puzzle of the Middle Stone Age in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 9, 608-622.
Bader, G.D., Tribolo, C., Conard, N.J. (2018). A return to Umbeli Belli: New insights of recent excavations and implications for the final MSA of eastern South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 21, 733-757.