Earlier in the year, two archaeology honours students, Reagile Sengane and Kefilwe Rammutloa, took part in setting up a museum exhibition. The exhibition took place from July 2013 – November 2013 and was part of their community engagement project.
The aim of the museum exhibition was to create a frontier where the public could engage with archaeology. This was done through showcasing the Mapungubwe ceramic pots that had never been displayed before. The exhibition also served the purpose of illustrating how archaeologists use ethnographic research and experimental archaeology to interpret the archaeological objects. In broader terms the exhibition aimed at decolonising archaeology, by using non-scientific words to include the public. In addition to this, the exhibition aimed at informing the public about the different research projects that the department of archaeology is undertaking at UP.
One of the display cases showcases the experimental ceramic pots that the first year students did as a practical. The aim of having these vessels was to illustrate that different people make pots differently, and how experimental archaeology has helps with the interpretation of archaeological objects (see image above).
The archaeological pots from Mapungubwe, Schroda and K2 were categorised according to their archaeological information. For example, the ceramic pots from the Hill complex were grouped together; the same was done with ceramic vessels from the southern terrace. Once the ceramic pots were put into their designated display cases, labels followed. Labels within permanent and semi-permanent exhibitions serve a large purpose by talking to the visitors.
Once the ceramic vessels were put in the display cases, an invitation was designed and sent out to the public (both archaeologists and non-archaeologists). In addition to the invites and the labels. three posters were made. The poster covered three themes, ethno-archaeology, experimental archaeology and one poster that highlight the history of Mapungubwe and background research about Mapungubwe.
The exhibition continues to be very successful. Be sure to go and have a look before it closes!