Dr Janette Deacon to receive the 2017 Simon van der Stel gold medal in Stellenbosch

On the trail of Stellenbosch and the Western Cape’s early history

Dr Janette Deacon, an internationally renowned archaeologist living in Stellenbosch, will talk about the early pre-colonial history of Stellenbosch and the Western Cape, on 21 February 2018.

Dr Deacon has been involved in significant archaeological excavations and documentation of rock art, for which she was awarded the UNESCO and World Heritage Convention medal in 2010. Her talk will include illustrations of Western Cape excavations that is in the process of being declared World Heritage Sites, as well as illustrations of rock art not accessible to the public. She will also talk about the oldest heritage site in Stellenbosch, of which few inhabitants in the town are aware.

Dr Deacon will be speaking as the guest of the Stellenbosch Heritage Foundation at the Stellenbosch University Art Museum in Ryneveld Street at 18h00 on 21 February. The Heritage Association of South Africa will present a gold medal to her for her contribution to the field.

The Heritage Foundation’s annual general meeting will precede Dr Deacon’s talk in the boardroom of the Art Museum from 17h30 – 18h00.

Wine and refreshments will be served from 17h30 to all who attend Dr Deacon’s talk.

RSVP to admin@theoffices.co.za before or on 19 February 2018.

A brief summary of themes from the talk is presented below.

Spatial planning and the Western Cape’s early history

For nearly a million years, the indigenous people of the Western Cape were Stone Age huntergatherers whose lifestyle made them flexible enough to adapt to changes in climate and the availability of water, meat and vegetables. Archaeologists have accumulated a lot of evidence for these adaptations from remains left in caves, rock shelters and open sites, some of which are significant enough to be nominated for World Heritage status.

The National Heritage Resources Act requires local government to undertake surveys of sites of heritage significance so that their location can be mapped and taken into consideration when development planning takes place. Once the municipality knows where heritage resources are located, and how significant they are in terms of grading, their presence can be built into spatial planning, conservation and management.

Very few archaeological and paleontological sites have been included in local government development plans, but it is now time to integrate them and prevent unnecessary destruction of evidence that can never be re-created. The talk will illustrate some of the most significant places and the reasons for conserving them.

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