The 500 Year Archive (FHYA) is an experimental digital research tool that allows you to dive into the southern African past up to five centuries before colonialism. It is devised to support historical enquiry, to liaise with research institutions, and to build a public community of users interested in how history was shaped and made in southern Africa.
The site has been launched using materials concerning the area that is today KwaZulu-Natal but has been conceived to expand outwards from this narrow geographic focus and to include materials from across the region.
The FHYA convenes diverse selections of materials online including, amongst other things, texts, images, recordings, excavated items and botanical material, as well as early vernacular publications. The materials are drawn from local and international institutions and from personal collections. The site also provides records pertinent to the collection and custodial histories of these materials, foregrounding the long processes of source production and preservation that made simple items into complex testimonies of the past.
The FHYA is designed to grow organically. You are encouraged to create a profile, add comments, and upload any item you may find useful for sharing with the community. Let’s dive in!