Prof Koornhof gifts rare Mapungubwe book to UP Mapungubwe Archive

Posted on May 23, 2022

Professor Carolina Koornhof, Executive Director of Finance and Business Initiatives at the University of Pretoria (UP), has donated a rarely found book about Mapungubwe to the Mapungubwe Archive of the UP Museums.

Written by Professor Leo Fouché and titled Mapungubwe Volume 1: Ancient Bantu Civilization on the Limpopo: Reports on Excavations at Mapungubwe (Northern Transvaal) from February 1933 to June 1935, the book is one of only 250 copies that were printed, and has since become a collector’s item. It was published in 1937 by Cambridge University Press.

"The book that my husband and I donated to the University has been in our family for decades,” Prof Koornhof said. “My husband received it from his parents, and we felt that the most appropriate place for it is at the University of Pretoria, where the Mapungubwe Collection is held."

"There are very few of these publications available today," said Dr Sian Tiley-Nel, Head of UP Museums and the Mapungubwe Archive. “Many have been lost to private collections, so the Mapungubwe Archive of the University of Pretoria generously welcomes Prof Koornhof’s in-kind donation, to make the publication safely held under archival care and available as a primary research resource.’

digital copy of the book is available at the UP Library.

The book is a collection of seminal research reports on the first seasons of excavation at Mapungubwe between February 1933 and June 1935. This was also the period when the Mapungubwe gold collection was established. Prof Fouché, who was one of the first appointed historians at UP in 1932, was instrumental in the legal negotiations on behalf of UP and its legal advisors at the time, Adams and Adams Attorneys, for the discoverers to hand over their illegal collection of gold, which was taken from Mapungubwe Hill, for protection and scientific study, and to secure a national treasure for South Africa.

This publication is also important as underpinned by the first part of its title, Mapungubwe Volume 1, and because it contains the first research of archaeological enquiry, ceramics and metal analyses as well as the first recording of Mapungubwe oral traditions and ethnographic investigations of the time.

The donation will be lodged in the archive section known as the Mapungubwe libraria.

The UP Museums is the official repository that curates the Mapungubwe Archive, a collection of records of archival value about the history and contemporary history of Mapungubwe and the role of the University, dating back to 1933. UP’s stewardship of the Mapungubwe Collection is a national and global responsibility. The archive holds a significant collection of historical documents, photographs, artworks and other related material. It is a unique heritage resource, as it is the only one of its kind in the world. The archive also plays a valuable role as the University’s memory bank and as a new African repository open for research.

The Mapungubwe Archive is by appointment. Email [email protected] or call 012 420 3100.

- Author Tukkievaria 23 May 2022

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