Lost South African city discovered 200 years after being destroyed by war

The medieval city of Kweneng dates back to the 1400s and has now been uncovered and reconstructed using LiDAR – a combination of light and radar technology.


In the 1820s, the Kweneng settlement collapsed during the Difaqane civil wars and – following the dispersion of its Tswana-speaking inhabitants – the ruins were left overgrown with vegetation.

The Kweneng ruins were spotted beneath the thick vegetation at Suikerbosrand near Johannesburg using the laser technology by researchers from the University of Witwatersrand.

Researchers then mapped the area and have now created a digital reconstruction of the site.

Experts believe the evidence gathered suggests Kweneng was large enough to be called a city, and it's thought the area was made up of between 750-850 homes with each housing an extended family.

Karim Sadr a professor at the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, told Fox News he commissioned a LiDAR aerial survey of the first ten square kilometres in 2014 and the remainder of the area in 2015.

Dr Sadr said: "It was only in 2016 after poring over all of that detailed imagery that I eventually realised that the homesteads are not a scatter of villages but parts of one entity; a city, rather than a dispersion of homesteads."

He continued: "At the end of last year a fourth-year student completed a project on the detailed mapping of one of the stone-walled compounds and another ex-student has put together some interesting digital reconstruction of that compound."

Fern Imbali Sixwanha, who mapped the area, told Reuters: "What this means is filling in a huge historical gap especially for southern Africa because the pre-colonial history has no written record.

"Now we're starting to fill in the gaps using this LiDAR technology," she said.





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