Heritage Cases

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Following comments received on the proposed Revised Schedule of Fees for applications made to the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA), made in terms of Section 25(2)(l) of the National Heritage Resources Act No. 25 of 1999 (NHRA) and published in the Government Gazette of 22 July 2022, SAHRA hereby publishes the final Revised Schedule of Fees for Applications made to SAHRA. Applications for provision of services submitted to the South African Heritage Resources Authority (SAHRA), in terms of the National Heritage Resources Act, No. 25 of 1999 (NHRA) must be accompanied by a payment of the appropriate fee, taking effect from 1 January 2023

Revised Schedule of Fees for Applications made to the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA)

Olieboomspoort MSA fauna export





Case Type: 


Olieboomspoort is one of the few rock shelters in the vast interior region of southern Africa documenting pulses of occupation going back from the Acheulean until the very end of the Later Stone Age (last two millennia). Recent work at the site has focused on the Holocene layers (van der Ryst 2007), but little is known about the earlier phases of shelter use, predominantly associated with the Middle Stone Age (MSA). In 2018, we started a new field project at the site (SAHRA excavation permit 2799). Our 2018 and 2019 excavation campaigns yielded a large sample of lithics and ochre pieces and we collected abundant and relatively well-preserved fossilized faunal remains (Val et al. submitted). This is a significant discovery since faunal remains from the MSA layers at OBP have not been described previously. These faunal remains will be analyzed in the framework of a Master project conducted by Humphrey Nyambiya under the co-supervision of Dr. Deano Stynder (Department of Archaeology, UCT) and Dr. Aurore Val (Evolutionary Studies Institute, Wits University and University of Tuebingen, Germany). The material is currently curated at the Evolutionary Studies Institute. Since Humphrey Nyambiya is registered at UCT and will need to use various facilities there (e.g. comparative collection, microscopes), we would like to export the material from Wits to UCT for the duration of the Master thesis. The analytical work is non-destructive. It will include taxonomic and anatomical identifications of the material, as well as a comprehensive taphonomic study. Meso-wear analysis of the dental remains will also be conducted. Upon completion of the project (expected date: end of 2021), the material will be returned to Wits.


Since 2018, we have reopened the area where M. van der Ryst previously excavated the Later Stone Age (late Holocene) layers and we have started to excavate in the Pleistocene layers on a surface of two square meters. In parallel, we have reopened the test-trench dug by her team in the late 1990s to access stratigraphic profiles and to gain a refined understanding of sedimentary processes. The main goals of the multidisciplinary, field-orientated project at Olieboomspoort are to: (1) provide a chronological framework for the MSA layers; (2) clarify the stratigraphy and site formation processes; (3) technologically re-evaluate the lithic assemblage; and (4) test the site’s potential for organic preservation and associated palaeoenvironmental reconstructions. Our excavations have yielded abundant lithic and ochre pieces, alongside numerous faunal remains. A preliminary taxonomical appraisal of these fossil remains highlights the presence of various mammalian and reptilian taxa in the assemblage, including tortoises, snakes, leporids, small carnivores and several species of small to large ungulates. Taxonomic and anatomical identifications of the complete 2018-2019 faunal sample, including the material retrieved from the sieving refuse, need to be completed. A detailed taphonomic study is also required in order to explore the modalities of faunal assemblage accumulation, the role played by post-depositional processes, and to investigate the subsistence strategies of the MSA inhabitants of the shelter. The nearby presence of a river combined with a first geoarchaeological appraisal of the deposits suggest that water might have played a role in accumulating and/or disturbing the fossil material. In the case of a faunal assemblage primarily accumulated by humans as the result of butchery practices at the site, the faunal assemblage from Olieboomspoort constitutes a rare opportunity to document subsistence strategies in the interior of the southern African region, where such information is scarce. Finally, the faunal assemblage will serve as a proxy to document past habitats around the site during the Pleistocene, using both taxonomic composition and meso-wear analysis of ungulate teeth. The Master project aims at: -(1) identifying the origin of the faunal remains in the assemblage (anthropogenic versus other biotic agents, notably carnivores); -(2) evaluating the role played by water transport, abrasion and sorting in the accumulation and post-depositional modification of the faunal assemblage; -(3) documenting human butchery practices and animal exploitation patterns.


Friday, August 28, 2020 - 15:28





van der Ryst MM (2007) Seeking shelter: Later Stone Age hunters, gatherers and fishers of Olieboomspoort in the Western Waterberg, South of the Limpopo. PhD thesis, University of the Witwatersrand
Val, A., de la Peña, P., Bansal, S., Colino, F., Duval, M., Hodgskiss, T., Morrissey, P., Murray, A., Murungi, M.L., Neumann, F.H., Shadrach, K., Thomsen, K.J., van der Ryst, M., Witelson, D., and Stratford, D. (submitted). The place beyond the trees: renewed excavations of the Middle Stone Age deposits at Olieboomspoort in the Waterberg, Limpopo Province (South Africa). Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.

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