Programme 2017
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Note Branch phone number: 072 349 6507


Northern Branch: Confirmed Events



15 June:
Archaeology in the imagination of India Lecture by Professor Dilip Menon

25 June:
Excursion to Kromdraai in the Cradle of Humankind Led by Professor Josť Braga

20 July:
Rising Star Cave and the discovery of Homo naledi Lecture by Steven Tucker

July:
Possible outing to be arranged TBC

17 August:
Bushman Rock Shelter Pretoria lecture by Dr Aurore Val

26 Aug:
Annual Symposium Trading Places: Connecting the world

17 Sept:
The Argent Silver Mine Outing with Graham Reeks

October:
Overseas tour to Ethiopia led by Reinoud Boers

26 Nov:
Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens Geological outing with Professor Morris Viljoen

BOOKING CONDITIONS FOR OUTINGS: There is a cut-off date for bookings one week before the outing. Only participants who have been confirmed by phone, SMS or e-mail may participate in the outing. In addition, the outing costs must be pre-paid. No pets are allowed on outings as we usually visit private properties.

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Archaeology in the imagination of India
Professor Dilip Menon

Date: Thursday 15 June at 20:00
Venue: The auditorium, Roedean School, 35 Princess of Wales Terrace, Parktown
Charge: Members free; Non-members R30


One part of India's coming into its own as a nation was an investment in the idea of its ancientness. The work of the Archaeological Survey of India and excavations of the Indus Valley civilization, the ancient universities of Nalanda and Taxila as much as Roman coins in southern India, meant that nationalists could use the concept of "Indian" civilization to address the psychic injuries of colonialism. Archaeology seemed to offer evidence and "modern scientific" proof as opposed to the literary classics which could be accused of hyperbole and a mythic imagination.

Professor Menon was educated at the Universities of Delhi, Oxford, and Cambridge, and has taught at universities in India, Europe and the USA. Since 2007 he has been the director of the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa at the University of the Witwatersrand, where he holds the Mellon Chair in Indian Studies. His areas of research are in the politics of India, and in global cultural, literary and intellectual history.

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Excursion to Kromdraai in the Cradle of Civilisation
Led by Professor Josť Braga

Date: Sunday 25 June
Time: 9:30 for 10:00
Meeting Place: Car Park, Sterkfontein Caves
Charge: Members R50.00 Non-Members R75.00
Bring: Walking shoes, hats
Booking essential: Phone Anita Arnott at 011 795 4056.


In 1938 a schoolboy named Gert Terblanche found a jawbone and some teeth in a cave in Kromdraai. Dr Robert Broom heard of the discovery and began excavations at the site. He was able to partially reconstruct the skull, together with its lower mandible which was found in 1944. This was the first discovery of a Paranthropus robustus. The Kromdraai site in the Cradle of Humankind, a short distance from Sterkfontein Caves and Swartkrans, is where the first Paranthropus fossils were found. Paranthropus lived about 2.5 to 1 million years ago. To date 29 hominid specimens have been recovered. Professor Josť Braga, who has been excavating the site for the past few years, will give us a talk on the site and show us around.

Professor Josť Braga of University of Toulouse in France is a bioanthropologist specialising in growth, hearing and 3D imaging systems. He has excavated in South Africa, France, Egypt and Mongolia. He is Deputy Director of the CNRS Research Team "Computer-Aided Anatomy and Palaeoanthropology" at University of Toulouse and also a Member of the National Committee for Scientific Research (CoNRS), France (2016-2021).

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Rising Star Cave and the discovery of Homo naledi
Steven Tucker

Date: Thursday 20 July at 20:00
Venue: The auditorium, Roedean School, 35 Princess of Wales Terrace, Parktown
Charge: Members free; Non-members R30


Discovered deep in a cave in the Cradle of Humankind in September 2013, Homo naledi is the newest member of the human family. Two short excavation periods recovered more than 1500 remains of unprecedented quality and completeness making it the largest known hominin fossil deposit on the continent of Africa. In addition, the nature of the deposit is unique and suggests that Homo naledi may have been engaging in complex behaviours previously assumed to have been practiced only by modern humans.

Steven Tucker, a qualified chartered accountant and registered auditor, started exploring caves in 2010 with the Speleological Exploration Club. In 2013 he was part of the team who discovered and mapped Armageddon Cave, one of the largest caves in South Africa. A few months later he and fellow caver, Rick Hunter, entered an unknown chamber in the Rising Star Cave System and discovered the remains of a new species of human ancestor, Homo naledi. The find garnered international attention for the amazing volume of material, as well as the excellent preservation and unusual depositional context. Shortly after the Rising Star expedition, Steven joined the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand full-time as an explorer, leading a team in surface and sub-surface explorations around the Cradle of Humankind and assisting with excavations at several sites, including Rising Star and Malapa.

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Special lecture in Pretoria: Bushman Shelter
Dr Aurore Val

Date: Thursday 17 August at 18.30 for 19:00
Venue: UNISA, Anthropology and Archaeology Museum, Department of Anthropology & Archaeology, 4th floor, Theo van Wijk Building, UNISA Muckleneuk campus, 1 Preller St., Muckleneuk, Pretoria
Charge: Members free; Non-members R30


The Bushman Rock Shelter (BRS) site is located in the district of Ohrigstad, Limpopo, in the North of the Drakensberg range. Excavated in the 70's by the team of Hannes Eloff from University of Pretoria, BRS revealed archaeological strata dating from Middle and Later Stone Age. The mineral and organic remains, perfectly preserved over 7 meters deep, are key indicators for tracking the changes in the hunter-gatherer populations spanning the last 200,000 years. This is precisely during this period that the first societies of anatomically modern humans appeared and transformed on the African continent.

Dr Aurore Val, post-doctoral fellow at the DITSONG National Museum of Natural History (DST/NRF Centre of Excellence in Palaeosciences) will give a talk about the research currently being conducted at Bushman Rock Shelter in Limpopo. Field work has been conducted by a team since 2014 and multi-proxy research including lithic technology, faunal analysis, dating and archaeobotany will be discussed.

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ANNUAL SYMPOSIUM 2017: TRADING PLACES: CONNECTING THE WORLD
Join us for a full day of lectures celebrating Africa's history of trade and rich maritime heritage

Date: Saturday 26 August 2017
Cost: Members R230 pp; Non-members R300 pp; Students R70 pp; If depositing CASH or CHEQUE add R20 pp.
Flyer: Click here.
Bookings: See flyer.


Trade has sustained human populations for thousands of years. The focus of this year's symposium will be patterns of trade in and out of the African continent. There will be six presentations by esteemed academics specialising in these trade networks. The talks span over two millennia and topics include:

Phoenicians' Mediterranean North African trade routes, shipwrecks, the VOC Dutch East India Company, East African trade triangle 700-1400 AD, Indian Ocean trade from 1500 AD & the West African-Caribbean trade (slaves, rum, sugar, tobacco).

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Argent Silver Mine
Outing led by Graham Reeks

Date: Sunday 17 September 2017
Time: 9:30 for 10:00
Meeting Place:Dirt road just off of the N12 highway
Charge: to be announced nearer the time.
Bring: Optional picnic lunch and drinks. Shade is limited. Bring hat, sunscreen, good footwear & walking stick if used.
Booking essential: Phone Anita Arnott at 011 795 4056 nearer the time.


This outing is to visit the remains of an historical silver-lead mine dating from 1889. The mine was worked for a period of seven years in the 1890s then reopened in 1919 and worked for another seven years. It produced 25 000 tons of lead, 65 tons of silver and 250 tons of copper in its lifetime. The history of the mine involves many of the Randlords, new mining technologies, and new social structures within the mining industry. All of these factors will be explained during the visit to the large site. It is currently an active and exciting industrial and historical archaeological site and the research towards a PhD has revealed many new interesting facts. The walking tour will look at the remains of structures of the silver mine from both time periods as well as the site of the extensive excavations.

Directions: Please note that it takes about one hour from Pretoria via Bapsfontein and one hour from JHB.
From Johannesburg: Take the N12 towards Witbank. Approximately 20 KM beyond the Delmas on-ramp there is a highway sign and off-ramp 'ARGENT-DWAARSFONTEIN'. Turn off the highway and at the T-junction turn left. Park and wait at the end of the tarred section of road.
From Pretoria: Travel via Bapsfontein towards Delmas until you reach the N12 highway. Turn onto the highway towards Witbank and look for the ARGENT road sign then turn off as above.

Graham Reeks was born in England where he studied production and mechanical engineering. He immigrated to South Africa in 1972 and spent over 30 years in the mining, paper and paint industries. He completed his Masters at UNISA and is currently working on his PhD through Wits. The focus for his Masters was the Silver Mining Industry in the greater Pretoria region in the 19th & 20th centuries. His passion is Industrial Archaeology and the Archeo-geology of ancient mining sites. He was chairman of the branch from 2012-2014.

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