In a situation of life and death during wartime, it might sound superfluous that concern for Ukraine’s cultural heritage has also become newsworthy since its invasion by Russia on the 24th of February 2022. The Ukrainians themselves are risking their lives to safeguard cultural objects by transporting movable objects and artworks to safer areas and safeguarding immovable objects such as statues by covering them with sandbags. Ukraine has a long and illustrious history and as a result also a rich legacy of cultural heritage which, given the severity of the invasion, is near on impossible to safeguard.
In many African cultures, the aardvark is viewed as a symbol of strength and resilience, and anyone fortunate enough to see one is said to be blessed. The Hausa healers in West Africa pound and grind the heart, skin, and nails with the roots of a specific tree to create a charm that supposedly makes the wearer invisible at night – no doubt a great concern for any father with beautiful daughters at home!
When it comes to nutritional value, grasses are probably the world’s most important plant family. All our cereals, including maize, wheat, sorghum, rye, millet, rice, barley and sugarcane are grasses. Grasses also provide fodder for animals that supply us with meat, leather and milk. Within the South African agricultural sector, cereal accounted for about 30% of total gross agricultural production in the country in 2017, with total output of 18.6 million tonnes for wheat and maize in 2020-21 (Agriseta 2019; Lyddon 2021).
Earth is currently in the grip of the Quaternary glaciation, where climate alternates between cold temperature intervals, called glacial periods, and phases of warmer climate, called interglacial periods. Glacial-interglacial cycles have waxed and waned throughout the Quaternary Period (the past 2.6 million years) and are believed to be driven by changes in the orbital pattern of the Earth that has periods of about 20 000, 40 000 and 100 000 years.
The Department of Archaeology at the National Museum, Bloemfontein, is involved in several projects aimed at reconstructing the behaviour and biology of past human populations, from the start of the archaeological record in the Pliocene period up into the ethnographic present of southern Africa.