TOPIC: What evidence do archaeologists use to date old buildings?
SPEAKER: Antonia Malan
Bricks and mortar, window and door fittings, are dateable artefacts, and the building technique and style belongs to a certain period.
But what about ruins, where the foundations are all that’s left?
Vernacs often search for bits of broken china around old buildings, and discuss what they were and how old they are. What else can this debris tell us, and what other artefacts are used to date a building or a sequence of construction events?
In this talk, the excavations and other investigations into the VOC outpost in Newlands Forest – ‘t Paradijs (that we visited in March 2019) provide examples of various archaeological methods of tracing a structure’s history,
(The work was done by UCT in the 1980s, so it also gives a glimpse into a pre-digital past. Who remembers reading dumpy levels upside down?)
Dr. Antonia Malan, a former Chair of the Society, is a historical archaeologist with a PhD from the University of Cape Town, she is a Research Associate in the Department of Archaeology at UCT.
A focus on household inventories of deceased estates of the 18th and 19th century Cape Colony lead to a deep interest in vernacular architecture and the spatial development of Cape Town and its hinterland.
She directed a significant transcription project capturing archival papers from the VOC period and the first decades of British rule at the Cape, in collaboration with the national archives of the Netherlands.
As a free-lance archaeologist and heritage consultant, she works closely with the Archaeology Contracts Office at UCT, taught part-time in inter-disciplinary programmes, and is actively involved in local heritage issues, sitting on statutory heritage committees.
She is responsible for the Publications Portfolio of our Society and is the current Chair of the Heritage Western Cape Council.