BUSE Lecturer breaks new ground documenting dry stone masonry at Great Zimbabwe

Bindura University of Science Education lecturer Mr Munyaradzi Elton Sagiya of the department of Languages and Communication skills has embarked on a novel research project titled ‘Documenting Knowledge, Skills and Practices of dry stone masonry at Great Zimbabwe’. The research project is being funded by the endangered material knowledge programme under the auspices of the British Museum.

Mr Sagiya joined the Bindura University in May 2021 from the Great Zimbabwe World Heritage site where he was Curator of Archaeology and Head of the Research and Conservation Centre. His research is focused on documenting and preserving the skills and practices of maintaining the Great Zimbabwe dry stone masonry through formalizing the practice and training of dry stone masons. Furthermore, the research aims to create a digital repository of interviews in video and audio as well as photographs capturing dry stone masons at work, also including views of Curators, Archaeologists, local community members and University academics. Sagiya believes the transition from oral dry stone masonry apprenticeship to more formalized methods is the key in ensuring the continued preservation of the Great Zimbabwe ruins and indigenous knowledge systems focused on dry stone wall structure preservation. Currently, there are only four dry stone masons overseeing the restoration and repair of the country’s over three hundred sixty dry stone wall structures hence the importance of Sagiya’s research project.

To date, Sagiya has written several academic journal articles centred on policies and practices in conserving archaeological heritage sites in Zimbabwe. He has also represented the Bindura University of Science Education at several conferences and webinars. His research was granted the British Museum endangered materials funding in 2020 and it runs until august 2022 and is funded to the tune of twelve thousand and seventy five pounds.

The project in pictures