The Bakoni Ruins are intriguing to many individuals. Its origin is largely disputed between psuedoarchaeologists and archaeologists. Because of this, the dating of the site widely ranges between 25,000 to 250,000 years old. It is important to note that it was before the colonization of Africa when this land was settled by the Bakoni. This site is located in the province of Mpumalanga, South Africa, which is now referred to as eNtokozweni. The Bakoni Ruins are constructed stonewalls located in mostly grassy pasture areas . These walls consist of maze-like ruins that form circular enclosures as well as linear pathways. “Among the maze of stonewalling there are three main elements visible today: the homesteads, the terraced fields and the road networks” . These stonewalls are spread all throughout the province. To present day, this site has yet to be excavated and has earned the title as South Africa’s “Lost City”, for its mysterious past. What little we do know about the site comes from interpretations of the site itself as well as the oral histories and written documents that have existed for thousands of years. While the oral histories and written documents give us more knowledge of the site, it is very limited.
While we use the term the “Bakoni” as a way to reference the site, region, and for the group of people who actually settled in this region; it is important to not assume that the Bakoni people were all from the same origin . . Through the interpretation of the Bakoni oral traditions in a collaborative effort between archaeologist Alex Schoeman and Historian Peter Delius, we have concluded that the Bakoni tribe was most likely a consolidated group made up of various neighboring groups that arrived in the Mpumalanga region at different times. It is also important to note that while these oral traditions could be true, over time stories are manipulated to match the biases of the storyteller .
Context of the Bakoni Ruins
The Bakoni Ruins are maze-like structures that consist of enclosed circular stonewalls as well as linear pathways. The Mpumalanga Province where the ruins are found is located within the escarpment of South Africa. This land was used for agricultural purposes when the Bakoni inhabited the land. “After about 1600 [Bokoni] saw the establishment of numerous communities based on the development of what was for the times an exceptionally intensive form of agriculture. Evidence for this is to be found in the numerous and often densely concentrated ruins of stone enclosures, agricultural terraces, and interweaving cattle lanes” .. The extensive amount of ruins through this region suggests that agriculture was a large part of the Bakoni lifestyle. Some of these stone walls were used to create terraces. Terrace agriculture is an important asset when the fields could be endangered of erosion through intense agricultural practice. These stone terrace walls surround the small fields the Bakoni used to cultivate. It is thought that these terraces were not built all of once. The process of creating the stone walls and well as the movement of soil to create the raised edge of the terrace would have taken too many years to build up. Along with the stone walls, sherds of pottery have been found although out this region. The presence of pottery suggest that the people who existed here also stored their agricultural products as the use of pottery was popularly used as food storage.
While this site does not have very many psuedoacrchaeological claims made against it, Michael Tellinger plays a large part of the pseudoarchaeological narrative for the Bakoni Ruins. He largely believes that archaeologist have just written the South African Stone Circles off as proof of agricultural practice and that it is of no importance to the history of humans. He believes that these stone circles had nothing to do with agriculture or the Bakoni people. He does believes that the stone circle radiates powerful sound frequencies and electro-magnetic waves. Claims of a Torus Stone crashing the TSA security systems at Doho International Airport in 2013 has been the backbone of his movement . The incident has also led to Tellinger, “suggesting that the stones circles of South Africa may be a clue to delivering a source of free energy to the people of the world. Tellinger believes that the sound that is radiated from the stone circles was helpful to an ancient advanced race in detecting gold mines.
Decontruction of the Psuedoarchaeological Narrative
It is important to always first look into the individual(s) who make the pseudoarchaeological claims first. The biases and incentives of a pseudoarchaeological claim almost always has a personal motive behind it. Michael Tellinger claims to be a scientist and explorer who has become the real life Indiana Jones. Looking through his website ., his exact education has is no where to be found. This is interesting because most professionals are proud of their hard earned degrees. Within professional biographies, the education of the professional is normally the first thing that is talked about. A Michigan State University blog that was created in 2015 mentions that Tellinger, “graduated in 1983 from the University of Witwatersrand Medical School, Johannesburg, with a B. Pharmaceutics degree, a passion for the cosmos, genetics and human history,” . As of December 2019, this informations is no where to be found on his website. Tellinger graduated with a pharmaceutics degree which matches his claims being a scientist. His website, though, has nothing to do with medicinal science but everything to do with social sciences. He portrays himself as a social scientist to use as an advantage and to further support his pseudoarchaeological claims. Tellinger also refuses to acknowledge the evidence that supports that the Bakoni people inhabited this area. Tellinger also has no prior experience in archaeology or history. He only mentions that he has a passion for those things. This is an issue within the archaeology community because the people who actually have the passion as well as the professional training and degree that correlates with the field are being portrayed in a way that they do not know what they are doing.
Michael Tellinger does not acknowledge that this site is largely known today as the Bakoni Ruins. Since this name plays off of the people that lived in this region, he shies away from this term to completely wipe the Bakoni people from his own narrative. Evidence of pottery sherds that were found here supports the claim of the Bakoni people and yet he only ignores the fact that pottery is in abundance at this site. Tellinger claims that the stone walls hold an electro-magnetic energy that has helped ancient advanced races uncover mines of gold has no supporting evidence. If his claims were to be true, we would be seeing traces and artifacts of a technologically more advanced race.
- Delius, Peter, Tim Maggs, and Alex Schoeman 2014 Forgotten world: the stone walled settlements of the Mpumalanga Escarpment. Wits University Press, Johannesburg.
- Esterhuysen, Amanda, P. L. Bonner, and Natalie Swanepoel 2019 Five Hundred Years Rediscovered: Southern African Precedents and Prospects. Wits University Press, Johannesburg.
- Delius, Peter, Tim Maggs, and Maria Schoeman 2012 Bokoni: Old Structures, New Paradigms? Rethinking Pre-colonial Society from the Perspective of the Stone-Walled Sites in Mpumalanga. Journal of Southern African Studies 38(2): 399–414.
- Wright, John 2010 Putting Bokoni on the Historians Map. African Studies 69(2): 229–233.
- Michael Tellinger: Hidden Origins U.S. Tour 2019. Portal To Ascension.
- 2019 About Michael. Michael Tellinger. February 22.
- 2015 Exposing the Unknown for What It Is. Bakoni Ruins. December 4.