Liamba Hill


View from near the top of the hill, looking west.

Yesterday I decided to go on an adventure and went and explored Liamba Hill. I found out about Liamba Hill thanks to the always interesting (if you live near Mbala) Abercornucopia, which recently posted two papers about Liamba Hill, here and here. The two papers describe Liamba Hill as a sort of stone age factory, literally covered with stone age artifacts:

“The whole surface of the western slope of the Liamba Hill formation… is almost completely covered with stone fragments so thickly laid that there is hardly any grass cover and only thin, open bush cover… These stone fragments are largely – in fact mainly – artifacts. In some places there is hardly a natural stone to be seen.”

Liamba Hill is about 14 miles east of Mbala, so I set out early from my house and after picking up some egg sandwiches for lunch in Mbala, I made it to the hill about 1100. Based on various misadventures in the past, I am usually prepared for the worst, but this trip was pretty easy. The road goes right up to the hill and it is a pretty easy climb.


The paper did not mislead and the hill is pretty thickly covered with stone fragments. The paper promised that nearly every stone was an artifact of some sort, and I wish I knew better what a stone age artifact actually looked like. I think most of the artifacts on the hill are actually waste material, such as the stone fragments you chip away from a larger stone to like, actually make the tool. Looking around though, I found some things that I think could have been tools, or at least thrown away rejects.


Spear point?




Though I am not exactly an archaeologist, the papers promise that every fragment on the hill is an artifact, so sheer chance dictates I found at least a few. I, of course, left them on the hill.

At the top of the hill I ate lunch while enjoying the scenery. It’s currently burning season, and looking over the landscape you could see various fires in the area. That made it hazy, but I could make out Mt. Sunzu several miles to the south along the ridge. If the hill was slightly taller I would have been able to see over the ridge that marks the edge of the escarpment, but looks like I’ll have to climb another hill for that view. Overall it is a very pleasant easy hike with some added archaeology involved. As I’ve noted before, it is still pretty crazy to think about all the hundreds of thousands of years worth of humanity that has lived in this very spot. If Liamba Hill was a sort of stone age factory, the implications of that include trading routes, exchanges of knowledge and food, wars and peace throughout the centuries. Makes a pretty neat spot to eat an egg sandwich.


Brush-burning fires.