Canteen Kopje: a case for conservation, with some lessons learnt from law
Prof. David Morris
Sat, 13/04/2024 - 10:30
Phansi Museum
Please join us for the 35th Oliver Davies Memorial Lecture which will take place at Phansi Museum in Glenwood, Durban, on Saturday 13 April 2024.
The lecture will be followed by (1) the Southern African Archaeological Society (national) AGM and (2) the AGM of the KZN Branch of the SAAS. I’ll send you the documents relating to the Branch AGM soon.
The speaker will be Prof. David Morris of Sol Plaatje University and McGregor Museum, Kimberley. David is also currently President of the SAAS. His topic is as follows:
Canteen Kopje: a case for conservation, with some lessons learnt from law

Canteen Kopje is an archaeological site on the north bank of the Vaal River at Barkly West, near Kimberley. Well known for century, and a proclaimed protected reserve from 1948, it is currently proposed for grade 1 national heritage declaration. Destined for contestation, the deposits containing a sequence from Acheulean to nineteenth century contact period artefacts also happen to contain alluvial diamonds, especially the gravels with handaxes and Victoria West cores. Inevitably there has been pressure to mine the site, which represents but a remaining fraction of the much larger archaeological landscape that once existed here. The presentation will address the consequences of mining that began at the site on 18 March 2016, which was halted by urgent interdict the following day. In a context where alluvial gravels have been widely exploited up and down the river, to the detriment of archaeological traces, there was a case for conserving this one major remaining site, not least because it was formally declared, and subject to on-going research. A number of lessons have been learnt from the legal proceedings that have continued into 2024. The struggle might not be over. Public awareness of our archaeological heritage is crucial and points to an on-going key role for the South African Archaeological Society.