Mapungubwe Archive

The Mapungubwe Archive is a repository of historical and modern significance that forms a key part of the University of Pretoria’s institutional memory bank. Historical and current archival records dating back to 1933, relating to the history of Mapungubwe and the University’s role as steward of the Mapungubwe Collection, are permanently lodged in the Archive. The Mapungubwe Archive is a member of the International Council on Archives (ICA) representing the records and archive professionals across the globe dedicated to the effective management of records and the preservation, care and use of the world’s archival heritage. The Mapungubwe Archive was formally opened on the 24 February 2022 by the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria, Prof. Tawana Kupe.

The Mapungubwe Archive is officially curated, managed and preserved by the University of Pretoria Museums. Located in the Old Arts building on UP’s Hatfield Campus, the Archive stores, manages, maintains and preserves a substantial collection of historical documents, photographs, negatives, slides, maps, multimedia material, digital records, publications and other related material. The Archive continues to grow by acquiring public and private records by transfer, gift, bequest, exchange or any other transaction for it to be held in trust for future generations. It is a unique heritage resource being the only Mapungubwe Archive in the world. The Archive is not merely a historical and research resource, but it aims to provide a space to remember, recreate, reconsider and reimagine. It demonstrates the University of Pretoria’s social contribution to managing, curating and preserving finite archives for its wider contributions to the arts, culture and heritage sector of South Africa and Mapungubwe as a declared world heritage site.

The Mapungubwe Archive holdings date from 1933 to 1999 and material can broadly be accessed by the following elements and finding aids are ordered chronologically:

1933 - 1999                        Historical document collection
1933 - 1999                        Historical photograph collection
1880 - present                   Biography collections:
                                                          FB Lotrie (1825 – 1917)
                                                          JCO van Graan (1908-1987)
                                                          L Fouché (1880-1949)
                                                          J de Villiers Roos (1869-1940)
                                                          EV Adams (1888-1968
                                                          GA Gardner (1881-1959)
                                                          JF Eloff (1918-2007)
                                                          A. Meyer (b. 1946)
                                                          Clarence van Riet Lowe (1894-1956)
                                                          JF Schofield (1886 – 1956).

1933                                    Cartography Collection
1933                                    Illustration Collection

1933 – present                  Print Media Collection: Newspaper clippings and magazine articles

                                            Digital Files and Electronic Media Collection.

                                            Object File Collection

1933- 1999                        Research Collection: Research published and unpublished and field reports

Mapungubwe Libraria    Books, theses, school textbooks, fiction and non-fiction books, any published

                                           material on the subject of Mapungubwe

The preservation of the Mapungubwe Archive is to provide a safe macro and microenvironment within the archive repository. Preservation priorities include monitoring temperature and humidity, continuous assessment of archival holdings, the appropriate storing of archival records, as well as maintaining security measures. When providing access to the archival holdings, safe handling of the historical materials are enforced in line with recognised international standards.

The preservation of archival material would not have been possible without the grant from the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) in partnership with the US Embassy in Pretoria. A substantial preservation grant of $57 735 was formally awarded to the University of Pretoria Museums on 1 October 2018. The preservation project commenced in September 2018 and concluded in November 2021. Preservation and appraisal continues.

Archivist:             Helma Steenkamp
E-mail:                  [email protected]
Tel:                       +27 12 420 3100
Research:           By appointment only
Fees:                    Researchers are required to register and nominal fees apply


Access only for researchers. Please e-mail or phone for an appointment. Researchers are required to register annually and nominal fees may apply. 

- Author Dr. Sian Tiley-Nel and Helma Steenkamp

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