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Department of Archaeology



I was born and raised in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, a region known for its natural beauty and the history of Zulu people. I moved to Johannesburg to conduct a degree in GIS/Geography and, there, I was first exposed to African archaeology. I became increasingly interested in the application of geographical/GIS skills to understand the human past; for which I pursued postgraduate studies at the University of Pretoria and training analyses of soil and plant macrofossils at UPPSALA University.


  • Evolution of state systems across valley plains in southern Africa
  • Rainfall modelling, analysis of soil micromorphology, chemical elements and hydrological modelling.

My research focuses on hydrological modelling in the Shashe-Limpopo river basin. This research has focussed on role of hydrological changes in the demise of southern Africa’s earliest state-society: Mapungubwe (1200–1300 AD) in the Shashe-Limpopo river basin, South Africa. The research strategy combines geoarchaeological field surveys; laboratory analyses (geochemistry and micromorphology); study of historical records and modern climatic data; predictive modelling using Geographic Information Systems, Remote Sensing and Hydraulic Engineering Center River Analysis System tools.

I am currently engaged in field projects focussing on Geoarchaeology in the middle Limpopo [AD 1000 and 1300 /Mapungubwe State/South Africa].

I am presently involved in the following research projects in South Africa: Conducting geoarchaeological investigations, including archaeological excavations and geomorphological survey, in the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape and its hinterland as part of a cross-disciplinary research. 2017 – 2018: Collapse of Ancient Societies: Crisis and resilience in three spheres - Mapungubwe, Great Zimbabwe, and Aksum



Key publications: 


Nxumalo B. 2019. Integrating geoarchaeological approaches and rainfall modelling as a proxy for hydrological changes in the shashe–limpopo basin, South Africa. South African Archaeological Bulletin 74 (211): 67–77.

Pikirayi Innocent, Sulas Federica, Musindo Tendai Treddah, Chimwanda Acquiline, Chikumbirike Joseph, Mtetwa Ezekia, Nxumalo Bongumenzi, Sagiya Munyaradzi Elton. Great Zimbabwe's water. WIREs Water 2016, 3: 195-210. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1133

Nxumalo, B. S. 2013. The ethnoarchaeological Study of Zulu pots in the Uthukela Basin:

Pikirayi et al. 2016.  Great Zimbabwe waters:

Teaching and Supervisions

Research supervision: 

Principle Supervisor: Prof Charles French


Job Titles

PhD student in Archaeology

General Info

Not available for consultancy
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Computational and Quantitative Archaeology
Environmental Archaeology, Geoarchaeology, and Landscape studies

Contact Details

Deaprtment of Archaeology
Downing Street


Environment, Landscapes and Settlement
Geographical areas: 
Periods of interest: 
Iron Age