Department of Antiquities was formed in January, 1967 by an Act of parliament with the mandate to study, preserve, conserve, and protect Malawi’s cultural and natural heritage.


  • Safeguard the nation’s cultural heritage for posterity
  • Promote greater awareness and appreciation of Malawi’s cultural heritage thereby stimulating pride among Malawian public of this heritage
  • Improve Malawi’s national identity by exposing the nation’s roots
  • Stimulate sound national development based on the nation’s cultural background
  • Contribute towards the boosting of the country’s by assisting promoting tourism industry.

The activities under this programme are meant to disseminate information gathered from the other two programmes such as Research and Monuments. This is done through public lectures, awareness campaigns, publication of research findings, brochures, leaflets, exhibitions, to name but a few.


A monument can be defined as remnant of events or activities or something set up to keep alive our memory of such events or person. Usually these events or people have great significance in terms, of history, politics and culture.   Monuments have been identified and some have been erected. For example,  Independent Arch in Blantyre, Memorial Tower in Lilongwe, Missionary Graves in NkhataBay and Blantyre Mission.
National monuments are monuments that have been gazetted in the national gazette while local monuments are recognized at district level or local level and have not been gazetted.

Monuments protected under the monument and relics act

  • Chongoni Rock Art Heritage Site- Dedza
  • Kamuzu mausoleum – Lilongwe
  • Zomba War Memorial – Zomba
  • Providence Industrial Mission – Chiradzulu
  • National Memorial Tower – Lilongwe
  • Nguludi Slave House - Chiradzulu
  • Nguludi Fathers house - Chiradzulu
  • Old Diamphwe Bridge Built 1923 – Lilongwe/Dedza
  • Saint Peter’s Cathedral – Likoma Island
  • Fort Mangochi - Mangochi
  • Embangweni Old Bandawe Church – Mzimba
  • Martyrs graves, 1959 – Nkhatabay
  • All Saints Anglican Church Dedicated in 1896 – Nkhotakota
  • Kombo (Jumbe) Mosque – Nkhotakota
  • Livingstone Trees – Nkhotakota
    a) The one next to     Anglican Church
    b)The one which is in Kombo village
  • Chamare (Mua) - Dedza

Gazetted Monuments in Malawi

  • Blantyre  Old  Boma – Blantyre   525: Vol. IX.No.22
  • Queen Victoria Memorial Hall- Blantyre  525: Vol. IX.No.22
  • St Michael’s  & All Angels  C.C.A.P Church- Blantyre 359: Vol. VI. General Notice No.1146
  • Resident of H.E. the President (March 3 House)- Blantyre 384: Vol. VII.No.22
  • Mandala Manager’s House and Compound – Blantyre 328: Vol. VI.No.30
  • Independence Arch- Blantyre 525: Vol. IX.No.22
  • Memorial to U.M.C.A Missionaries- Chikwawa 301: Vol. VI.No.3
  • Grave of Richard Thornton, Livingstone’s geologist- Chikwawa 301: Vol. VI.No.3
  • Chencherere Rock Shelters with Paintings- Dedza 301: Vol. VI.No.3
  • Mtunthama Monument Rea (Kachere Tree, Drum Tree and Chiwengo)-Kasungu (Mtunthama) 689. Vol. XI.No.69
  • War Memorial (Lilongwe City Centre)- Lilongwe 429. Vol. III.No.86
  • Queen Vicktoria Memorial Tower, Vipya Memorial& Hotchkiss Gun from “Guendolen”- Mangochi 234: Vol. V.No.11
  • Old Livingstonia Missionary Site, Missionary Graves& Otter Point.- Mangochi (Cape Maclear) 280: Vol. IX.No.22
  • MwalawaMphini(tattooed geological structure)- Mangochi (Cape Maclear) 280: Vol. IX.No.22
  • Ekwendeni C.C.A.P. Church- Mzimba 467: Vol. VIII.No.33
  • Memorial to Chief GomaniChikuse- Ntcheu 328:Vol.VI.No.30
  • Fort Lister- Phalombe 384: Vol. VII.No.23
  • Livingstonia C.C.A.P. Church, Old Post Office, “Stone House”, Industrial Block and House No.1- Rumphi 467: Vol.VIII.NO.33
  • Mwalawolemba(Rock Paintings on Mikolongwe Hill)- Thyolo 229:Vol.V.No.6

Natural sites - Monuments. 

  • Dziwe La Nkhalamba Falls
  • Otter point
  • Malapi Canyon in Chikala hills
  • MwalawaMphini
  • Hot Spring
  • Liwonde - On shire river (Machinga)
  • Madziamphitsa - Lisungwe river (Neno)
  • Chitunda- Chitunda hill (Mchinji)
  • Chiwi- Kanyongondo Vge (Nkhotakota)
  • Chikwizi- FunsaniVge(Nkhotakota)
  • Lingona- MchemereVge(Nkhotakota)
  • Chombo- Near school(Nkhotakota)
  • Mawila- At Linga(Nkhotakota)
  • Chiweta- At Chiweta (Rumphi)
  • Mkungwi - Mkungwi river (Karonga)
  • Nyungwe - Near ADMARC(Karonga)
  • Chilema trees



The first known archaeological works in Malawi with proper reports written, were done by Desmond Clark and Inskeep in 1965, Cole-King in 1968 and 1973. Nevertheless, Desmond Clark pioneered archaeological work in Malawi in the 1950‟s by surveying and excavating several areas.

Then later Cole-King in 1973 did a preliminary archaeological research where he published an inventory of archeological sites in Malawi. Following him was Robinson who did his works mostly in the 1970‟s and he came up with a pottery typology for Malawi's Iron Age and wrote extensively on it. Most of the early publications on the Iron Age in Malawi were by Robinson. He also wrote about the Later Stone Age of Malawi but not as extensive as the Iron Age of Malawi.

Research students of Desmond Clark, from University of California, Berkley have been major contributors to the archaeological works in Malawi. A number of former students like Sandelowsky in 1972, Mgomezulu in 1978 and Juwayeyi in 1981 from the California University have done research and written their doctoral thesis by analysing assemblages from Malawi. Among their contributions are the analyses of Fingira assemblage by Sandelowsky, Linthipe/Chongoni by Mgomezulu and Malowa assemblage by Juwayeyi which are the basis of comparison to most archaeological sites in Malawi.

In 1969, Denbow and Ainsworth excavated the Malowa site and Denbow re-excavated it in 1972. Later in 1982, Juwayeyi excavated it again and re-analysed the assemblage. According to Denbow, Middle Stone Age hunter-gatherers inhabited Malowa in its earliest levels while Juwayeyi saw the same layers as belonging to the Later Stone Age inhabitants.

In 1970, Clark and Haynes did their work in the Northern Region of Malawi. Amongst others, they excavated the Mwanganda butchery site, which is among the few sites in the world where animal bones are in association with stone tools.

Malawi's oldest Late Stone Age has been dated to around 14,700 years ago at Hora in Mzimba district. This is in contrast with the Late Stone Age (LSA) believed to have emerged in Africa around 50-40 000 years ago. Iit would appear that indeed the LSA of Malawi lags behind that of other countries, but at the same time, it is also a reflection of the amount of work that has been done in Malawi concerning the LSA.

Stone Age is the period when man solely used stone artifacts for his daily use

This period is divided into three:
•Early Stone Age from 100,000 BC to 50,000 BC
•Middle Stone Age from 50,000 BC to 8,000 BC
•Late Stone Age from 8,000 BC to 1, 700 AD

Prominent stone Age sites like Mwanganga elephant butchery site, Chaminade, Malowa, Chentcherere rock shelter, Fingira rockshelter and Kayelekela just to mention just a few have produced spectacular results so much so that other scientists are still studying the area of Karonga area to establish the new thinking how to date the materials.

Recorded Stone Age Sites in Malawi

This discipline was intensified soon after the Act of parliament was passed in 1965 and the visiting researchers like J. Desmond Clark reporting some archaeological sites such Stone and Iron Age sites in 1966, 67, 68 and 1969 and then came Kith Robson, Cole King, Greenstein until in 1980s when Malawians were trained to professional level, the likes of late G.G. Y. Mgemezulu, Dr. Y. M. Juwayeyi. Papers presented in international congress. ARCHAEOLOGY: It is a scientific study of human activity remains. In this field the Department has located thousands of sites where man lived and left some of his activities in form of materials such stone artifacts, bones, trade goods, pottery paintings and iron implements
The sites are located through site survey and materials found in this process are called surface collections while some of the materials are found through digging which is called excavation

This was the period when man began to use iron implements as opposed to stones.
The invention of Iron implements prompted the start of farming and people started living in communities as opposed to wondering about in search of food.
The Iron was made from Iron ore, a metal like stone which was heated in a furnace and when the ore became so hot it melted. The melted part is what is called Iron slags.

During this period another very important tool was made in form of vessels. The clay pots or pottery were used for various domestic chores for example cooking, storage of water, soaking sorghum  and millet before grinding on the grinding stone.

First pot to have been made was Nkope dated 2nd AD to 1000th Century. The pot was named Nkope after it was found at Nkope hill in Mangochi and
other similar pots found elsewhere is named as such.

Nkope and Mwaulambo pots 2ndCentury to 8th Century AD;
Kapeni and Mwamasapa pots 1000th Century to 12th Century AD;
Namasopottery 12th Century to 14th Century AD;
Maudzu, Longwe and Mbande 14thCentury AD to 18thCentury AD;
Nkhudzipottery 18thCentury AD to present.
Books have been published on the archaeological finds in Antiquities publications series. Apart from normal activity of research in the discipline, in this field, the department is also involved in cultural heritage impact assessment where new development projects are taking place such as new roads, railway lines, dams and any other project that involves large area.

Rock art is found almost in every continent of the world, namely Africa, Europe, Asia, North America, South America and Australia. Rock art refers to the marks that were made on rock panels by our ancestors on rock surfaces. They can be rock paintings or rock engravings. The dominant rock art found in Malawi are rock paintings. In some countries rock engravings are predominant. Rock paintings are marks made on rock surfaces using while rock engravings are carvings made on the rock surfaces.

Rock paintings in Malawi are found in a number of districts of Malawi across the country. In the Northern Region rock art is found in Rumphi and Mzimba. In Central Region, rock art is found in Kasungu, Lilongwe and Dedza. Mangochi, Mwanza, Chiradzulu, Thyolo and Phalombe are districts where rock art is found. However, it must be said that high concentration in at Chongoni in Dedza District. The following are the places where rock art is found:
RumphiFingira, Rumphi
Kasungu- Ulazi
Dedza-Chongoni and Mphunzi
Mangochi- Nkuzi bay

When one travels across the country, one is likely to come across two main types of the rock art. These are white paintings and red paintings. Research shows that red paintings were made by the short statured people known as the Akafula or Abatwa or Amwandiwonerapati, also called the Twa in East Africa. The Batwa were Hunter-gatherers. Male Batwas were hunters while female Batwas were collecting food. White paintings were made by the Chewa who were Early Iron Age farmers. These Early Iron Age farmers used the paintings as a medium of communication during initiation ceremony. These were initiates who had graduated from childhood to adulthood. These were boys or girls who had reached puberty. The cultural practices are being used even today.

The Batwa
The Batwa were short statured people who lived in the country 2000 years ago. These were hunter gatherers. The Batwa were the early inhabitants of Malawi before the coming of other ethnic groups. They were spread across Africa and they are responsible for most of the rock paintings found in the central Africa region of Africa. They are believed to be good at rain making. The rain drum found at Tsang’oma was snatched from the Akafula by the Chewa. This drum is being kept at Tsang’oma in Mitundu in Lilongwe.

The Chewa
The Chewa originated from Congo in the present Democratic Republic of Congo. They had several cultural beliefs of which one of them was their nyau secret society. Wherever they went, they left some paintings.

Chongoni Rock Art is found in Chongoni Forest Reserve Dedza District. Other surrounding mountains have also rock art. Chongoni has both Red rock art and white rock art. As said earlier, red rock art was made by Akafula while white rock art were made by the Chewa.

Chongoni Rock Art World Heritage Site
Chongoni Rock Art World Heritage Site (RAWHS) is found in Dedza district in the central region of Malawi. It is found in the Chongoni Forest Reserve some six kilometers from the M1 Road.  Chongoni was inscribed on the world heritage list in 2006 owing to high and unique concentration of rock paintings. A world heritage site is a cultural site or natural site or a mixture of both that is judged as having outstanding universal values. UNESCO has so far enlisted other seven rock art sites in Africa making a total of eight rock art world heritage sites. They include the following:
Ukhlamba Rock Art World Heritage Site in South Africa
Tsodilo in Botswana, etc
Chongoni Rock Art World Heritage Site has very unique rock art. So far 127 sites have been discovered in this site. Some of the sites are Chentcherere, Namzeze, Bunda, Chibenthu, Mtusi, Phanga la Angoni, Nsanawang’ombe, Diwa, Mwalawanjuchi, Phanga la Akakhome and others. Among these sites, three sites have been opened for public visitation namely Chentcherere, Namzeze and Mphunzi.

Chentcherere Rock Art Site
Chentcherere Rock Art Site was gazetted as a national monument in 1972. It has white paintings which take the shape of animal figures usually used during chinamwali initiation ceremonies. The type of the rock art shows that the site was used by women to pass information to girls who have reached puberty stage as a rite of passage. Common white paintings found at this site include lizards, snakes, eggs, and dots. However, the site also has red paintings which are almost fainting. This indicates that the site was first occupied by the Akafula.

Namzeze Rock Art Site
The site has numerous animal white paintings. The paintings show characters used by gulewamkulu, the popular secret society of initiation ceremony practised by men. This shows that the site was used by men. Just like Chentcherere, the site has also red paintings which are in a well conserved state. The white paintings are superimposed on the red paintings. The red paintings take geometrical shapes in the form of curves, ladders, circles, semi-circles, etc

Mphunzi Rock Art Site
Mphunzi has very interesting sites. It is found in the buffer zone of the World Heritage Site. It has both red and white paintings. There are a number of sites within Mphunzi which are numbered 1 to 7. Mphunzi 1 is dominated by red paintings. The other sites have white paintings or a combination of both. Most white paintings found in Mphunzi depict characters used during chinamwali initiation ceremony.
Management of Chongoni Rock Art World heritage Site is guided by the management plan which was developed before the site was inscribed on the World Heritage List. The local communities provide a lot of support in the conservation and management of the site. Majority of the local population has ever been in the activities that are carried at Chongoni. Meanwhile, the Government of Malawi through the Department of Culture is constructing an information centre, office block and artisan workshop. The information centre will mount exhibition of artifacts related to rock art with the theme: “From the Akafula to the Present.” The artisan workshop will provide space for the local artisans to make their merchandise which will be sold to visitors as souvenirs. Some training opportunities have been provided to a group of women in the field of pottery, card making, and tailoring. Some youths were also trained in pottery, basketry, and wood curving.

Paleontology is the study of fossilised plant and animal matter that is dated in millions of years. In this field, the department has an inventory of over 150 localities where deposits of Dinasour bones have been recorded. The most concentrated area is Mwakashunguti in Karonga where a complete Dinasour's skeleton was excavated by American researchers in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities in 1990s. This skeleton and other specimen were analyzed,  prepared, replicated and displayed at Cultural and Museum Centre in Karonga. The department has a large collection of specimens for Dinasour's both here at the head office in Lilongwe and at its national repository at Nguludi slave house in Chiladzulu district. The researchers and general public are welcome to study and visit these places. Through this corroborative research, Malawi has befitted by training ever African female paleontologist Elizabeth Gomani Chindebvu PHD who is now the Director of Culture. The research started in 1983; later in 1984 another project started which concentrated much on ancient animals and hominids and the project was started by Germans and American scientists in corroboration with Malawi Department of Antiquities, this research made an inventory of over 200 localities two of which were discoveries of early men dated to 2.5 million old at Uraha and malema sites respectively. This corroboration also befitted Malawi by training male technician to professional level as paleontologist. The project has inventoried numerous specimens which can be used as comparative research materials on request at Antiquities headquarters in Lilongwe. In both Paleontological and Hominid research projects publication have been published in Antiquities publication series and international journals.