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Monthly Archives: September 2013


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Going to Great Zimbabwe!

The archaeology honours students are on their way to Great Zimbabwe tomorrow! Be sure to keep an eye on this page, as well as Facebook and Instagram for live picture updates from Zimbabwe (if we have signal that is)!

great zim


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


Honours students intern at AGES

The Archaeology Honours students of The University of Pretoria got placed at various companies/institutions for internships.  The internships lasted two weeks (20th – 31st of May 2013), with the goal of showing the students what type of jobs they can one day look forward to, and what such jobs entail.

Three students, Nokukhanya Khumalo, Mpo Maripane and Lu-Marie Combrink got placed with AGES, a Pretoria-based company that specialises in environmental management, geo-engineering and hydro-geology. Our supervisor and mentor was Neels Kruger (Archaeological Specialist at AGES).

Interns_6From left to right: Nokukhanya Khumalo, Mpo Maripane, Lu-Marie Combrink and Neels Kruger

The goal of the intership was to experience all aspects of a standard HIA (Heritage Impact Assessment) Project, by experiencing the project from conception to completion. Our HIA was based on a real life case study. This project entailed:

* Getting background information about the case study as well as historical and current status
* Studying aerial images of the site as well as Google Earth investigations
* Pre-application planning stage which included:
– Identify environmental opportunities and constraints
– Project flaws
* Screening stage & Scoping stage:
– Recommendations
– Identifying issues associated with the site
– Determine further specialist input
– Terms of reference

We then handed in our proposal and quotation for approval. After this stage it was time to compile our Impact Assessment Report:

* We studied SAHRA’s Minimum Standards: Archaeological and Palaeontological Components of Impact Assessment Reports and incorporated it into our report
* We also worked out a costing for the project
* Planned our site visit

 We then took a trip to the site and documented any heritage features that we could see:

Interns_1 Interns_2 Interns_3 Interns_4

When we returned to the office:
* We compiled a list of heritage features
* Discussed the importance of these heritage features
* Discussed mitigation options

Our AIA report was then completed and handed in for feedback.


We want to thank AGES for giving us the opportunity to serve as interns. We gained valuable insight into the CRM process and we had the chance to observe numerous aspects of the process, from conception to completion. What we learned was invaluable.

Photographs courtesy of Neels Kruger


Recap: The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead (AENES)

The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead by Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern Society

book of dead

Presented by Dr Beatrice Martin

Dr Martin, formerly of the University of Pretoria, started the lecture by explaining exactly what the Book of the Dead is, and how these “Spells or utterances for going out by day” can be found in the pyramid and coffin texts.
These books were mass produced in Egypt and were compiled for people upon their death so as to help the deceased with the situations that they might encounter on their journey to the afterlife, as well as in the afterlife itself.
martin lec
The talk focuses on the Papyrus of Ani (from Thebes, Egypt – 19th Dynasty, around 1275 BC), a 22 meter papyrus scroll bought by Sir E.A. Wallis-Budge, in 1988. The Papyrus of Ani describes Ani’s journey to the afterlife, including among other’s, the famous scene of the weighing of his heart against Ma’at and a series of hymns to Osiris. Dr Martin’s discussion on the Egyptian afterlife was brought to life by the beautiful pictures that she showed of the Papyrus of Ani, as well as other images of the Book of the Dead.


The lecture was very interesting and very well attended.

IMAG2171Prof Alex Duffy handing over a thank you gift to Dr Martin

Information and Photographs courtesy of Cherene de Bruyn and Samantha Serfontein


Recap: The Secret of bones

The Secret of bones


 Prof Ina Plug (UNISA)

Prof. Plug specialises in the analysis and interpretation of faunal materials from archaeological sites and is the honorary curator for the Department of Archaeozoology at The Ditsong National Museum of Natural History.


Prof. Plug’s lecture was very interesting as she discussed how bones found on archaeological sites can reveal much about how past people once lived and what their environments were like.


Prof. Plug also showed how bone size and shape can indicate different species (e.g. between antelope and carnivores).  Her latest book was also released at the talk and is a wonderful handbook of bone identification as the beautiful illustrations are life size and allows one to compare bones directly on the page.  The book is entitled What bone is that? and we will attempt to find publication details for those who would like to order a copy.

The lecture was a huge success and very well attended!


Information and Photographs courtesy of Cherene de Bruyn and Samantha Serfontein.


Talk: Archaeological investigations in Madagascar

An overview of archaeological investigations in Antsaragnasoa Bay, southwest Madagascar


Kristina Guild from Yale University will be giving a talk on her work in Antsaragnasoa Bay in southwest Madagascar.
This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about the Archaeology of Madagascar.

Date: Monday 9 September 2013
Place: Seminar room (HSB 8-18), Humanities Building, University of Pretoria
Time: 12:30 – 13:30

 See you there!


Lecture: The secrets of bones

Zebra skeleton

Prof Ina Plug (UNISA) will present a talk titled ‘The Secrets of Bones’ on Wednesday, 4 September 2013 at 17:15 in the Sci-Enza Auditorium.

Public lecture series
The Secrets of Bones

Speaker: Ina Plug (Professor Extraordinarius, UNISA)
Date: Wednesday, 4 September 2013
Time: 17:15 (to 18:15)
Venue: Sci-Enza, Hatfield Campus, University of Pretoria
(Note: Please use the Prospect Street entrance. See http://s2a3.up.ac.za/directions.php for directions and a map.)

Bones from archaeological sites reveal a great deal of what people were doing in the past, what they ate and how they obtained the animals they needed. These bones also reveal much about the past climate, environmental conditions and climate change. In her presentation, Ina Plug talks about how bones can be used to distinguish between animal groups such as antelopes and carnivores, diggers and jumpers and how species can be identified by examining their unique skeletal characteristics. She also touches on bone pathology and some research problems associated with certain types of deposits.

Ina has more than 30 years of experience in archaeozoology and is still active. She has written more than 130 publications that include papers in scientific journals and chapters in books. She is currently the only African representative on the International Council for Archaeozoology. She is Emeritus Researcher at the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History and Professor Extraordinarius at UNISA. She recently completed a book titled: What bone is that? A guide to identification of southern African animal bones.

Walter MeyerEmail: s2a3@up.ac.za Web: www: s2a3.up.ac.zaCell: 082 785 8432