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All That is Gold Does Not Glitter by Sian Tiley-Nel

“All That is Gold Does Not Glitter” Middle Earth’s Mapungubwe Gold Collection by Sian Tiley-Nel

Date: Thursday 6 August 2015 Time: 19:00
Venue and meeting place: Sci-Enza Building, University of Pretoria
Charge: ArchSoc and UPAS members: free Non-members: R30


Over the past decade, the archaeological Mapungubwe gold collection has been examined and documented in detail as part of an ongoing curatorial programme at the University of Pretoria (UP). There has also been research progress on dating Mapungubwe Hill’s gold burials (AD 1250-AD 1290), as well as a significant conservation programme, which came to an end in 2009 with the Gold Treasures of Mapungubwe exhibition. Such initiatives ensure that the collection is accessible to a wide audience to revitalize further research and new interpretations.
Sian will provide an illustrative view of the breath-taking gold collection, which comprises the iconic gold foil figurines, including 117 gold bracelets, 139 necklaces, 133 anklets, more than 25,412 gold beads and a multitude of unusual fragmentary gold foil forms. A highlight exclusively for the Archaeological Society will be some rare clips of one-and-only film footage of the early 1933 Mapungubwe excavations revealing fascinating narratives of that time in archaeology.
There are also plans to upgrade the gold gallery, which will be completed by 2016 with funding from the National Lottery and will offer visitors unique opportunities to explore the workmanship of the gold and its three associated burials.The UP Museums are continuously fundraising for the conservation and research of this internationally significant archaeological collection.
Sian is currently the Manager of UP Museums and has been Chief Curator of the Mapungubwe Collection for 15 years at UP. She studied at UP, where she obtained her honours and master’s degree in Archaeology, followed by a post graduate degree in Museum Studies. She has been inducted into the Order of Merit Laureatus Conservator at The South African Institute for Objects Conservation. She is currently pursuing her DPhil. Sian is also author of Mapungubwe Remembered and curated the Lerapo (meaning bone in Sepedi) exhibition of the K2 and Mapungubwe bone tool and ivory collection at the UP Museums.

No photography allowed

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Seminar on Friday – 25th of July

Reconstructing the environment of the earliest African hominid. Soils, trees, grasses, carbon isotopes and Ardipithecus


Stanley H. Ambrose
Department of Anthropology
University of Illinois

Did our earliest hominid ancestor begin to walk on two legs in forests, woodlands or grasslands? A new model of the relationship of the carbon isotope ratios of soil to the proportions of tree versus C4 grass cover in tropical savannas produces results consistent with a model of bipedal origins in grassy savannas. However, this model was developed using data mainly from floral habitats on infertile sandy soils, and may be irrelevant for fossil sites in regions with fertile soils.

Details: 25 July at 11 am in the seminar room of the Plant Science Complex (University of Pretoria)

Recap: Art and Archaeology in Ancient Sudan

Dr Cornelia Kleinitz from Wits gave a talk on the Art and Archaeology of Ancient Sudan at Unisa in September 2013. So naturally the Archaeology Honours students of UP decided to attend:


The talk titled: Between Africa and Egypt: Art and Archaeology in Ancient Sudan, was fascinating and insightful.

Some pictures from the talk:

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Afterwards Dr Kleinitz came to UP to talk to the Honours students about community engagement, with regards to her project at Merowe Dam. A fascinating discussion followed, with lots of questions for Dr Kleinitz regarding her work in Sudan, community engagement in general and a few out of the box questions that only Honours students could come up with!


We really enjoyed Dr Kleinitz’s talk and we can’t wait to hear more about the Archaeology in Sudan!

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Recap: Archaeological investigations in Madagascar

Recap: An overview of archaeological investigations in Antsaragnasoa Bay, southwest Madagascar by Kristina Guild Douglas


Kristina Guild Douglas from Yale University gave a talk last week on her work in southwest Madagascar.


Dr Alexander Antonites introducing Kristina Guild Douglas

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Krisina Guild Douglas started the talk off by introducing the archaeology of Madagascar. She talked about the different sites she had worked on in Antsaragnasoa Bay and what those sites were like.


She touched on the diverse landscapes, fauna and flora of Madagascar. As well as the rich archaeological finds, which include:

* Ceramics
* Glass Beads
* Eggshell/shell Beads
* Faunal material


She also discussed very interesting research on Ratites (Elephant Birds), whose fragmented eggs can be found on the island. The Elephant bird was larger than a human being until it went extinct. How or when is still being debated and researched.


The talk was very interesting and it had us all clambering to find out if there are any excavating opportunities in Madagascar!


Kristina Guild Douglas can be contacted via email: kristina.guild@yale.edu