Archeological Sites In Uganda : Uganda’s archaeological sites are dispersed equally throughout the nation, making it simple to visit them from anywhere in the nation. Over fifty tribes, belonging to four language groups (Madi-Moru, Nilotics, Bantu, and Nilot-Hamites), are found in Uganda.
Pastoralists that live semi-nomadically, like the Karamojong in the northeast, are part of the Nilotics. The eastern, middle, and western regions of the nation are home to the Bantu-speaking people: the Kingdoms of Buganda, Ankole, and Busoga. There are hunter-gatherer pygmies, such as the Batwa, who live near gorilla parks in the west, and the Bambuti, who live in Semliki, close to the border with the Ituri province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
These people have left a vast array of archeological traces across many generations, including earthworks and rock art that may be traced back to the Late Stone Age, some 40,000 years ago. It is possible to gain knowledge of Ugandan indigenous knowledge in a variety of areas, including traditional medicine, agriculture, food preparation, art and crafts, and education, by visiting archeological sites across the country. As indicated below, Uganda is home to six archaeological sites, five of which are tentatively listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The national cultural policy acknowledges cultural heritage as a means of promoting tourism in rural areas.
Bookings for cultural tours can be made through reputable tour operators such as Focus East Africa tours. This may involve visiting museums, such as the Great Lakes Museum near the Mbarara-Kabale highway, the Uganda National Museum in Kampala, the Karamoja Museum and Cultural Center in Moroto Town, and the Igongo Cultural Museum in Mbarara City. Here are the archeological sites in Uganda:
Nsongezi Rock Shelters
The Nsongezi Rocks archeological site dates back to the late Stone Age and is situated in the Isingiro area, 326 km (5 hours by car) southwest of Kampala’s capital and 57 km (1 hour by car) south of Mbarara. The Nsongezi rock shelters are located close to the Tanzanian border on the north bank of the Kagera River Valley. The area has caves and rock shelters where small Late Stone Age implements known as microliths have been discovered. The Uganda National Museum is home to these treasures.
In addition to the microliths, pottery artifacts were discovered in Nsongezi and are thought to have been utilized by hunter-gatherer societies, such as the Batwa pygmies, or Bushmen, between 900 and 1000 AD. Since the Bushmen are no longer primarily located in Uganda, the Batwa pygmies are thought to be the owners of the Nsongezi rock shelters. Originally inhabiting the tropical jungles of East and Central Africa, the Batwa people received their food not via farming but rather through hunting, fishing, and foraging.
The pygmies were fed fish from the Akagera River in addition to wild honey and fruits. Before the arrival of the Bantu cultivators in the Neolithic period (New Stone Age), which started around 1,000 AD, hunter-gatherer communities lived in and around Nsongezi, according to a scholarly paper by Nelson, M. Posnansky, and Charles M. “The Stone Tools from the Re-excavation of Nsongezi Rock Shelter, Uganda.“
Nyero Rock Paintings
The Kumi district, located south of Lake Bisina in the Teso sub region of northeastern Uganda, is home to Nyero rock art paintings. Kumi is situated 55 km north of Mbale city, 55 km southeast of Soroti town, 163 km (2 hours) northeast of the Jinja source of the Nile, and 241 km east of Kampala, the capital city.
Since there are no direct public buses to Nyero, driving a private vehicle is the most convenient option. You can make reservations for a guided tour with a tour operator. There are taxis to Kumi in the towns of Mbale, Jinja, and Kampala. The paintings at Nyero Rocks show canoes, wild creatures, and geometric shapes like U-shaped patterns, dots, and vertical lines, with concentric circles being the most prominent.
It is estimated that the Nyero rock art paintings were made between 3,000 and 12,000 years ago, based on the British Museum database. First recorded in 1913, it is the oldest rock art in Uganda. Although the artworks’ antiquity is known, there is disagreement over their creators. Southern African bushmen were initially documented in archeological investigations.
According to the second study, the Batwa pygmies, who originated from East and Central Africa’s tropical woodlands, created the paintings. The Batwa people of Uganda primarily inhabit the borders of the Mgahinga gorilla national park in southwest Uganda and the impenetrable Bwindi national park. According to the most recent research, the native Karamojong semi-nomadic pastoralists painted the Nyero rock art. The majority of the red-and-white-painted markers are easily identifiable.
However, some are fading owing to rain wiping away the colors. To preserve cultural heritage, rock art must be preserved. The Nyero rock art paintings have been nominated for inclusion on the preliminary list of sites to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List by the Uganda National Commission for UNESCO.
The commission is a quasi-autonomous entity that works under the Ministry of Education and Sports to connect Uganda to UNESCO institutions in order to ensure national cultural policy implementation. The rock drawings are depicted on the 1,000-Uganda-shilling note. The Nyero rock paintings can be seen on a Uganda safari to Pian Upe Game Reserve or Kidepo Valley National Park. The site is open Monday through Friday for 30,000 Uganda Shillings per person.
Archeological Sites In Uganda : Bigo Bya Mugenyi
Bigo Bya Mugenyi is situated 184 kilometers west of Kampala on the south banks of the Katonga River in Mawogola County, Sembabule District, and Central Uganda. To get there, take a detour from the Masaka municipality and travel 57 km. Between 1,000 and 1,500 AD, the Bachwezi, who were thought to be demigods, dominated central and western Uganda as well as northern Tanzania.
The Chwezi Empire’s most significant region was Bwera, or the territory in and surrounding Sembabule. In Bigo Bya Mugenyi and the nearby village of Ntusi, they constructed forts made of a variety of earthworks, including trench systems, enclosures, and mounds. The largest ancient monument in Uganda is the 10 sq. km. earthworks at Bigo Bya Mugenyi, which are situated 1,256 meters above sea level.
There are several ditches that are 6 km long, 10 m broad, and 1. 5–4 m deep. The Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines states that the earthworks may have been used for defense and protection, shelter, rites and ceremonies, and the storage of agricultural and other goods, among other purposes.
The Ankole longhorn cows, which the Bachwezi introduced and depended on for existence, are well-known. They also cultivated and collected wild fruits. Among the archaeologists who studied the site were P.L. Shinnie, M. Posnansky, and British colonial officials Baines and A.D. Combe. Over 42,000 pottery jars and pots, beads, bracelets, iron spearheads and arrows, fire kerbs, and some examples of African fiber and textiles were among the objects whose remnants were discovered.
They proposed that the trenches may have been built as a deterrent to the Luo-speaking groups that were invading the area and the wild elephants that roamed the Katonga wildlife reserve. The Bunyoro-Kitara empire, established by the Bachwezi, developed into a cohesive kingdom in the Great Lakes Region with a centralized administration and the organizational skills to construct these kinds of earthworks. The Bigo Bya Mugenyi earthworks are accessible to the public. Visitors should get ready for a nature stroll throughout the area, and there is a site tour guide available. Each person must pay an admission fee of 15,000 Ugandan shillings.
Archeological Sites In Uganda : Ntusi mounds
16 kilometers separate Ntusi Village in Lwemiyaga County from Bigo Bya Mugenyi. There are two mounds and a man-made basin there. After excavating several of the mounds in the early 1960s, the Uganda Department of Antiquities and Museums discovered that they were from the Late Iron Age, which spanned 400–800 AD. The Bigo Bya Mugenyi earthworks are two centuries younger than the Ntusi archeological site. Despite the fact that Ntusi and Bigo are related to the Bachwezi, some scholars hypothesize that the Bachwezi built their first mounds at Ntusi before moving to Bigo Bya Mugenyi.
Archeological Sites In Uganda : Kibiro salt gardens
The village and Hoima municipality are 34 kilometers apart. When traveling between the national parks of Kibale Forest and Murchison Falls, Hoima Town is a convenient place to stop.
There are eateries that provide a variety of lodging options in addition to regional and continental cuisine. To discover how salt is made from the land, guests can choose to stay in the town or go on a quick excursion to Kibiro. Short demonstrations are held so that guests can see a preview of the entire seven-day procedure.
There are also boat rides offered on Lake Albert. Since males fish, women and children mine and process salt the majority of the time. The Kibiro landing site has saline, sandy soils that are unsuitable for farming, as well as a hot spring. It follows that fishing and salt manufacture are the main economic activities; thus, it is not strange that people still barter food items for salt.
Considering that people still employ antiquated techniques and the results are inefficient, there isn’t much need for salt. A significant portion of the market is also occupied by another well-established mining sector near Lake Katwe, which is outside of Queen Elizabeth National Park. With a history spanning more than 800 years, Uganda’s Kibiro salt mining and industrial facility is a significant cultural heritage site.
Broken clay pot fragments and other archeological relics were also found, providing insight into the technology employed by the locals to make salt. Kibiro Salt Gardens were added to the preliminary list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites because they are thought to be of exceptional importance to humanity. Even though Kibiro Salt Gardens have gained recognition on a global scale, the absence of contemporary equipment continues to pose a hurdle to salt production. People still use outdated techniques, including gathering firewood, which contributes to deforestation.
Archeological Sites In Uganda : Karamoja Archeological Sites
A semi-arid area in northeastern Uganda, Karamoja shares borders with South Sudan and Kenya. Numerous pastoral communities that speak Nilotic are semi-nomadic and include Karamojong, Matheniko, IK, Dodoth, and Jie. Since cattle are essential to their way of life, the majority of Karamojong people have managed to preserve their ancient ways. They reside outside of protected places such as the Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve and the Kidepo Valley National Park.
Discover ancient rock art painting locations such as Rangi on Mount Kadam and Kobebe Hills on Mount Moroto with the Karamoja history and archeology trip. Other locations with rock art are Mogoth Rocks, Loteleit, Nakadanya, and Nakapeliet. It is advised that visitors to archeological sites show respect for the indigenous way of life.