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They were lying among and beneath thousands of tons of red iron oxide, down in depth to forty feet or more..... The archaeologist, Peter Beaumont, produced evidence of mining in the middle stone age, later stone age and iron age.
At Ngwenya, Middle Stone Age man tunnelled adits into the precipitous western face in search of iron pigments, the weathered ochreous forms of haematite (libomvu) near the surface, and the harder black glistening form of the ore called specularite (ludumare).
Archeological studies have identiﬁed ochre powder as an ingredient in the manufacture of compound adhesives (10).
Thus, the use of iron oxides for “symbolic” purposes should be viewed as a hypothesis that needs to be tested, rather than simply assumed.
At Lion Cavern it is estimated that at least 1 200 tons of soft haematite ore, rich in specularite, had been removed in ancient timesfrom the ethnographic record of modern hunter-gatherers, for instance, as (internal and external) medication, as a food preservative, in tanning of hides, and as insect repellent (3–9).
"Conclusively the miners were pigment or cosmetic miners. Among man's earliest funerary practices was the sprinkling of red ochre on the corpse prior to burial.
Digs in Europe , the Middle east and the southern Cape show that this was a standard practice.
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