The 1891 Battle of Lugalo: An Initial Archaeological Investigation of the Hehe- German Battlefields in Iringa, Tanzania

Frank Masele


The 1891 battle of Lugalo in Tanzania is one of the many the Germans faced against the local people in their endeavour to impose colonial rule. The Hehe warriors under chief Mkwawa, mostly equipped with spears and shields, defeated the German forces with superior weaponry. The aftermath was bloody and costly based on the number of causalities sustained by both parties. Until recently, the battlefield has received no attention from archaeologists. This article presents results of the first archaeological survey. The battlefield is full of bullet cartridges linked to the fight. Over a dozen bullet cartridges were recovered. The assemblage provides an opportunity to broaden the understanding of the military engagement, and to clarify, validate, and reconcile the historical and oral accounts. The Mauser rifle, which so often gave military triumphs in Europeans’ warfare against Africans, was the main firearm used by the German forces. The interpretation is supported by a large number of fired Mauser cartridges. The paper also provides recommendations and directions for future research. 



Mkwawa, Lugalo, Bullet Cartridges, Germany, Tanzania, Battlefield Archaeology

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