The Livingstone Museum in Zambia is a quaint relic of yesteryear; an old-fashioned museum in every sense of the word, compared to the hi-tech interactive facilities that first-world museums have become.
Photo: Marleen Post
It is also an astounding tribute to the natural history scientists who put together a collection of animals, stone tools and anthropological displays that provide a cohesive look at the history of the Victoria Falls area. The foyer of the museum has an interesting 3D map of the area and a comprehensive collection of tools and artifacts, ranging from the early Stone Age to the Iron Age.
It also has an extensive natural history section with stuffed animals from the Victoria Falls area. Among the specialities of the Livingstone Museum is the complete skeleton of a young adult excavated with a burnished pot at what is now Choonga School, 160km from Livingstone, near Kaloma.
Interestingly, males were buried facing east because that is the direction of the rising sun, symbolising an early start to hunting, while females were buried facing west because the setting sun meant it was time to get on with kitchen chores. There are also artifacts found from the early Iron Age site at Kumadzulo, about 40km northwest of Livingstone.
One of the most fascinating displays has to do with witchcraft and a somewhat grisly display of kaliloze guns made out of human bones and wax.
The history of the Victoria Falls area is intimately connected to the railway line that was constructed at the turn of the last century.
A specialist railway museum detailing the history of rail in the area is on the Chishimba Falls Road outside Livingstone.The museum has a collection of old steam trains and is particularly entertaining for young children.
The museum is open daily between 8.30am and 4pm.
There is a small museum near the entrance to the Victoria Falls on the Zambian side of the border. It details the origin of the Falls and has displays of some of the many stone tools and artifacts found in the area.Emil Holub
The Czech doctor Emil Holub (1847-1902) was an extraordinary adventurer and ethnographer, who studied and wrote on indigenous culture. Inspired by Livingstone's travels in Africa, he sailed to South Africa soon after he graduated from Prague University and set up a medical practice in Kimberley.
The next year, he got a taste for the safari lifestyle and became a natural history collector and amateur ethnographer when he joined a group of hunters for a foray into southern central Africa. It was on his third outing, in 1875, that he made it to the Zambezi.
He was the first cartographer to map the area in detail, and he also wrote the first book on Victoria Falls, which was published in Grahamstown, South Africa, in 1879. Holub made an unsuccessful attempt to trek from the Cape to Cairo in 1883 but was thwarted by illness and a lack of local collaboration.
The tragedy of Holub's life is that his vast collection of human and natural history artifacts never found a home, and he was forced to sell much of his collection before his early death in Vienna in 1902, brought on by complications from malaria and other diseases he'd contracted during his African travels.
On the 100th anniversary of his death, the Czech National Bank released a special coin commemorating his achievements. His memory is marked with a bronze bust erected in 2005 outside the Livingstone Museum and is preserved in his exhaustive records and reports of his travels.
Image: Courtesy of Rob BarrettBrett Hilton-Barber and Lee R. Berger. Copyright © 2010 Prime Origins.