Wed Aug 30, 2017 5:33 pm
Thieves nab rare gold relics
By DAVE CHAMBERS
SA National Parks is under fire after centuries-old
gold artefacts were stolen from one
of its museums.
The artefacts include a necklace, bracelets
and beads excavated from two graves at the
Thulamela archaeological site in Kruger
National Park, which was inhabited between
the l3th and lTth centuries.
The artefacts were stolen in December from
the Stevenson-Hamilton Knowledge Resource
Centre at Skukuza, but SANparks has yet to
officially inform the Ditsong National Museum
of Cultural History in Pretoria, custodian of the
"Gold artefacts are an extreme rarity and
that is why the Thulamela theft is a travesty,"
Sian Tiley-Nel, who manages the museums at
the University of Pretoria, told Nature.com.
Kevin MacDonald, an archaeologist at University
College London, told the scientific journal's
website that new techniques were providing
more information about the composition
and provenance of ancient metals.
Samples such as those from Thulamela
could help researchers trace the origins of
Africa's pre-colonial gold trade.
Tiley-Nel said the University of pretoria was
also seriously concerned about the state of the
Mapungubwe collection on loan to SANparks
and kept at the Mapungubwe Interpretation
Centre in Musina.
"Site inspections have revealed deteriorating
conditions, poor curation and improper
collections management practices at the [centrel,
which was not originally designed to
house ori$nal museum material," she told
Mapungubwe, a 13th- and l4th-century
trading centre, was excavated from the lg30s,
while Thulamela was uncovered in the lg90s.
Between them, the sites yielded the most significant
archaeological gold discoveries in
Leading South African science journalist
Sarah Wld reported that the theft had raised
questions about growing efforts to return culturauy
important materials to the region where
'There is always a trade-off of security verCurators
sus local relevance and tourism benefits at
remote regional museums," said MacDonald.
"If I were custodian of such materials, I
would think hvice before putting them into
A SANParkspokesman told Nature: "SANParks
has a duty to tell the full story about its
parks and, where it necessitates exhibiting
artefacts, steps are taken to put such on display."
But the University of Pretoria and other
curators said they were considering withdrawing
artefacts from SANParks and halting talks
about future loans.
Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:29 am
This sounds like an inside job. I assume the staff have been polygraphed and if not why not as it’s surely the first step