...why would people interested in haematite go to all the trouble to mine a material that could easily be got by mining the surface.
Specularite (a different ore) was the answer. This form of iron has no surface oxidation and looks much like modern glitter. Specularite is considered to have great power by traditional Swazis and only chiefs and the most qualified priest diviners are permitted to wear it, smearing the whole body and hair with it. In one of the adits they even found a mortar and pestle to grind the specularite. In effect these ancient adits were cosmetic mines producing glitter for ceremonial occasions.
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