Archaeozoology and Large Mammal Collection

General

The Archaeozoology and Large Mammal section houses one of the most comprehensive collections of mammal skeletons in Africa. The collection comprises of over 4500 skeletons.

Most of the species are from mammals in southern Africa, but also from Europe, Asia, Australasia, and North and South America. The focus is on larger mammals, with smaller mammals being housed in the Small Mammal Collection of the Museum.Researchers from the section analyse animal remains from archaeological and paleontological sites in southern Africa, including South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Malawi. These sites date from the “Early”, Middle and Later Stone Ages, the Early, Middle and Late Iron Ages and the historical period (2.5 million years to a hundred years ago).

History

Archaeozoology is a small science, with only about 500 specialists worldwide. Archaeozoology (or zooarchaeology) only emerged worldwide as a distinct science in the 1970s. South Africa is the only country in southern Africa with professional archaeozoologists, with specialists based at the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History (former Transvaal Museum) in Pretoria, the National Museum in Bloemfontein, and the Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town. In 1976, due to a growing demand from archaeologists to have animal remains identified from excavated sites, the Archaeozoology section was established at the then Transvaal Museum.
The mandate of the section was to analyse and identify animal remains from archaeological sites from southern Africa. Since the late 1800s, the Transvaal Museum had collected skeletons of mammals, but these consisted mostly of skulls only. With the establishment of the new section however, complete skeletons were collected from zoos and game parks. The first Curator of Archaeozoology was Ms. Elizabeth Ann (“Liz”) Voigt, until she accepted the Directorship of the McGregor Museum in Kimberley in 1986. From 1987 to 1999 the section was curated by Dr. Ina Plug. When the section was established in 1976, very little was known about the usage of animals by people in the past.

The timing and spread of domestic animals such as cattle, sheep and goats were poorly understood. Both Liz Voigt and Ina Plug established and refined analytical methods,
in addition to their research on animal use over time and space in southern Africa. In the late 1990’s, additional skulls from the former Mammal section were amalgamated with the skeletons from Archaeozoology. The current Curator is Dr. Shaw Badenhorst

Museum of Natural History

National Museum of Natural HistoryThe Ditsong National Museum of Natural History formerly known as the Transvaal Museum was founded as the Staatsmuseum of the ZAR on the 1st of December 1892.

And it has, since then acted as custodian and documentation centre of South Africa’s natural heritage.The Museum’s collections and exhibits include hominid fossils from the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site and associated fauna, including Mrs Ples [the nickname attributed to a fossil skull believed to represent a distant relative of all humankind]; fossils, skeletons, skins and mounted specimens of amphibians, fish, invertebrates, reptiles and mammals. On these collections are based the Museum’s educational programmes, research is done and information is communicated to all people of South Africa as well as to the international community.

The Ditsong National Museum of Natural History is the only natural history museum in Gauteng and one of the largest in South Africa. It is unique in that it is the only institute in South Africa that offers the local, national and international community the opportunity to view its collections including original fossil material usually denied the public.

Tours


Educational Programmes

A comprehensive series of programmes and conducted tours is offered to schools, students and tourists in various South African languages. All education programmes are aligned to CAPS (Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement). Booking is essential to participate in these activities. Please use e-mail to contact us while our phone system is being upgraded – bongi@ditsong.org.za.

Discovery Centre

A hands-on activity centre, where the five human senses are used to discover the wonders of nature, offering an invaluable educational adventure. It affords easy access for wheelchairs and display texts are also transcribed in Braille. This centre is ideal for younger learners that are eager to explore with their hands.

Public Programmes

Throughout the year talks are held at the Museum by various established researchers and scientists. Please check back regularly with the “Upcoming events” page or contact the Public Programmes Department.

Museum View


Publications


The Ditsong National Museum of Natural History researchers, as well as scientists from other institutions doing research can submit scientific papers to the annals. The major publications are the Annals of the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History and the Monograph series.

The Museum has exchange agreements with a large number of scientific institutions, both abroad and in South Africa and 342 copies of the Annals of the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History and 280 copies of the Monographs of the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History are distributed annually. Up to 2010 the annals were known as the Annals of the Transvaal Museum. For quality control of documents, articles, news releases and reports, please contact: Dr Martin Krüger at kruger@ditsong.org.za

 Admission Fees


Prices for Adults, Learners, Senior Citizens and Discovery Centre

ADMISSION FEES:

Adults
R35.00 p/p
Learners and Children
R20.00 p/p
SA Senior Citizens
R15.00 p/p
Students
R20.00 p/p
Educators
R20.00 p/p
Discovery Centre
R25.00 p/p
Behind the scenes tour
R50.00 p/p
Night tour
R100.00 p/p
Discovery + Museum
R40.00 p/p
Guided tour
Additional R5 to approporiate tariff

Contact Information


Physical Address:
432 Paul Kruger Street Pretoria 0001

GPS Coordinates:
S 25° 45’ 11.2” E 28° 11’ 21.6”

Contact numbers:
012 322 7632
012 000 0040 – temporarily out of service

Admission: Daily:
08:00 – 16:00
(Except Christmas Day and Good Friday)

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