A report on the historical-archaeological excavation of a late 19th/early 20th century midden on the farm Langlaagte 224 IQ, Crown Mines, Crownwood road, Johannesburg Gauteng


In October 2010 Archaetnos cc was approached by SAHRA’s BGG Unit regarding the discovery of burials because of water erosion at an old Crown Mines dump on Crownwood Road. SAHRA appointed Archaetnos to undertake the rescue of the exposed remains. A permit was issued (BG/11/01/002/86) in January 2011, and work commenced on the 24th of January. The site is located on a portion of the farm Langlaagte 224 IQ. During the initial fieldwork a superficial survey of the area around the site and mine dump was also undertaken, and the remnants of a historical refuse dump was also identified close by. The cultural material associated with the dump is scattered over an area in excess of 5400 square meters. It is evident that the refuse dump has been extensively disturbed over the last few years, through not only erosion, but also the work done during the reclaiming of the old mine dump, hence the scattered nature of the cultural material. With more burial pits identified during the initial rescue work, Archaetnos approached SAHRA about the more systematic and controlled investigation and exhumation of the other burials on the site, and a proposal was submitted for approval. The excavation of the historical midden formed part of the proposal, and SAHRA accepted the proposal and appointed Archaetnos cc to conduct the work. An archaeological permit (80/11/03/008/51) was then also issued to Archaetnos in April 2011.

Although some of the cultural material has a recent origin, most of it dates to between the late 19th and early 20th century, and is related to the early gold mining history of the area and the Witwatersrand. The aims of the excavation were to help with the dating of the site, and to determine the age of and relationship of the burials with the mine dump. Surface sampling was undertaking, while two formal test trenches on the dump were also conducted. This report discusses the results of the historical and archaeological investigations.

Report by

A. J.Pelser & A.C.van Vollenhoven