Archaelogical society hosts lecture series

Artefacts yield fascinating insight into the past.

The annual one-day lecture series of the Archaeological Society of the Western Cape and the Friends of the Stellenbosch Museum, titled “The past is the mirror of our present”, takes place on Sunday August 26, from 10am to 3.30pm, at Erfurthuis, 37 Ryneveld Street, Stellenbosch.

The speakers will offer ideas on our nutritional and health development, and insights into the new technologies of ancient DNA. They will show how important seafood was in our growth and development, new studies of ancient TB, and where the success of the technology of DNA is offering a new and exciting world.

In Professor John Compton’s lecture, “Did we speciate on the Southern coastal plain of South Africa?” the possibility that anatomically modern humans (AMH) speciated on the Southern Coastal Plain (SCP) of South Africa is explored in terms of palaeolandscapes, palaeoclimates and the archaeological record.

Dr Juri van den Heever talks on “Ancient DNA: The impossible made possible?”. It is amazing that sequencing the genome of a 38 000 year old Neanderthal fossil would reveal a gene associated with speech and language or that certain cultures still possess Neanderthal genes.

The sad fact, however, is that DNA deteriorate over time and it currently appears to be an impossible dream that we may some day walk with dinosaurs.

Tessa Campbell talks on “Advances, challenges and opportunities in ancient tuberculosis research”: how ancient DNA research has contributed to our understanding of the emergence and spread of tuberculosis, why research in Africa can make an important contribution and what possibilities the future may hold, will be discussed.

Dr Wendy Black’s talk is “Migrations and misrepresentations: Genetics in the service of archaeology and social justice”.

Professor Andy Smith will chair the proceedings, and in conclusion they will visit Lower Vredenburgh (now Vredenheim), one of the earliest Stellenbosch farms (1681), situated along the Eerste River which abounds with stone artefacts from the Earlier Stone Age.

The “Cape Baroque” homestead is one of a quartet of dwellings famous for their gables and architectural woodwork.

The cost is R190, including tea and lunch.

Booking is essential, with Esme Adriaanse at 021 887 2937. There will be books available after the event for cash sales.