Two UP Archaeology Students discover Anglo-Boer War midden along Roper Road

Posted on September 20, 2010

But every so often the past visits us – as was the case when Jackie de Souza and Gerhard Jordaan, two 3rd year Archaeology students, noticed old glass bottles and ceramics being dug out of the ground by workers laying an underground cell phone cable in Roper Street. They reported the find to their lecturer, archaeologist Dr. Sven Ouzman, who roped in Mr. Gerard de Kamper, Curator and Historical Archaeologist at the University of Pretoria. The bottles and ceramics were identified as probably originating from the Anglo-Boer War – now South African War (1899-1902) – when the area around Pretoria Boys High and Pretoria Oos Primary were used as a British hospital and camp.

South Africa’s heritage legislation protects artefacts older than 60 years, so Jackie and Gerhard’s find was promptly reported to the developer responsible for laying the tada cable, and provided with the details of archaeologists accredited to mitigate the damage caused to the midden (ash heap). Mr. Anton Pelser is investigating the find in collaboration with UP’s Department of Anthropology & Archaeology. Finds include the old ‘codd’ bottles with rounded bottoms and glass stoppers. The exact location of the midden will not be made known to ensure the site’s protection. Interestingly, UP’s Hatfield campus has at least two middens that date from the days of early Pretoria. alink to an article in Beeld can be found at

In an unrelated event, an Early Stone Age handaxe that is between quarter of a million and two million years old, found on a property in Waterkloof, was also reported to the Department. – proof that the past is constantly with us and visible to those trained in archaeological observation.

Anyone wishing to report archaeological finds can do so to Dr. Sven Ouzman on [email protected] – but please do not pick up or remove the artefacts; rather take a photo or simply report what has been found as the artefact alone means little on its own, taken away from where it was found.

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