The thriving metropolis of Kweneng was located just outside Johannesburg in the 15th Century…

The city’s structure has since been recreated by scientists through fascinating research using lasers. According to the researchers, the city was home to almost 10 000 people from the Tswana ethnic group. Watch the fascinating footage above to get a visual idea of what Kweneng looked like.

Karim Sadr, Professor Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand penned an article for The Conversation in which he describes the technology that was used to analyse and “draw” a virtual map of what the city used to look like.

This technology, called LiDAR, was used to “redraw” the remains of the city, along the lower western slopes of the Suikerbosrand hills near Johannesburg,” said Sadr.

LiDAR uses laser light to “see through” the vegetation and analyse the buried structures beneath, creating a visual map of the thriving city.

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(Screenshot from Reuters video)


“Among the largest features of the built environment at SKBR are artificial mounds composed of masses of ash from cattle dung fires, mixed with bones of livestock and broken pottery vessels. All this material appears to have been deliberately piled up at the entrance to the larger homesteads.”

(Screenshot from Reuters video)


“These are the remains of feasts and the ash heaps’ size publicised the particular homestead’s generosity and wealth. The use of refuse dumps as landmarks of wealth and power is known from other parts of the world, like India, as well. Even the contemporary gold mine dumps of Johannesburg can be seen in this light,” said Sadr.

Read the rest of his fascinating piece on The Conversation HERE.

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