National History Museum


Oppenheimer De Beers Group Research Conference attended

11 January 2017

Drs Nico Avenant (Mammalogy Department), Daryl Codron (Quarternary Research) and their post-Doc student Jacqui Codron attended the 7th annual Oppenheimer De Beers Group Research Conference in October in Johannesburg.  They were involved in three separate contributions at the conference.  Daryl won the Best Poster Award.

Dr Daryl Codron receiving the Best Poster Award from Mr Nicky Oppenheimer of E. Oppenheimer & Son.

Conference Paying Tribute to Prof Louis Scott

26 September 2014

From 07 to 11 July, the Florisbad Department, together with the Archaeology and Karoo Palaeontology Departments, and the University of the Free State (UFS), hosted an international palaeoclimate conference - “From Past to Present: Changing Climates, Ecosystems and Environments of southern Africa – A Tribute to Louis Scott”. The conference was organized as a tribute to Professor Louis Scott, who recently retired from the UFS’s Department of Plant Sciences. Louis is globally recognized as one of the leading scholars in Quaternary Palaeobotany and Palaeoecology, having made an outstanding contribution to teaching and research in South Africa and on the international front. His pioneering research in the fields of palynology, long-term continental environmental change, and interpretation of palaeoenvironmental records associated with archaeological sites, has contributed insights into the origin of our current environment by identifying long-term patterns of climate change. Results of his studies have been applied in numerical models of vegetation change in Africa and globally, being relevant across the fields of botany, geology, climatology, archaeology, anthropology and palaeontology.

The conference was attended by leading South African and international scholars, and covered topics as diverse as ecosystems ecology, palaeoenvironmental change, and archaeology. Proceedings are to be published in the journals Palaeoecology of Africa and the Transactions of the Royal Society of Africa. For more information, visit


27 March 2014

Michael Toffolo is an archaeologist, especially interested in geoarchaeology (i.e. the study of the formation and post-depositional processes of a site) and microarchaeology (i.e. the study of the microscopic archaeological record – whatever requires instruments in order to be seen). He received his BA (2006) and MA (2009) in Archaeology from the University Of Padua, Italy, where he worked at several Roman and Medieval archaeological sites. Michael subsequently started a PhD in Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, Israel, which was completed in 2014. During this study he carried out fieldwork at major Iron Age sites such as Megiddo, Ashkelon, Tell es-Safi/Gath, Tel Dor (all located in Israel), Lefkandi, Kalapodi, Corinth (Greece) and Idalion (Cyprus). He also worked at Upper Paleolithic sites (Manot and BokerTachtit – Israel). All his laboratory work was carried out as a Visiting PhD student at the Kimmel Center for Archaeological Science, Weizmann Institute (Israel). Michael’s dissertation is focused on the radiocarbon chronology of the southern Levant and Aegean during the Iron Age, with special attention to the characterization of archaeological contexts using a microarchaeological approach, which involves the application of several analytical techniques: archaeological soil micromorphology, Fourier-Transform Infrared spectrometry and micro-spectrometry (FTIR), Raman microscopy, quantification of soil free phosphates, phytolith analysis, Scanning Electron Microscopy coupled with Energy Dispersive Spectrometry (SEM-EDS) and Thermo-Gravimetric Analysis (TGA). He routinely uses this approach in the study of Eastern Mediterranean Late Bronze and Iron Age chronology; household activities in Mediterranean Late Bronze and Iron Age tell sites; pyrogenic aragonite and its importance in ancient pyrotechnology and in radiocarbon dating of archaeological ash and plaster.

This postdoctoral fellowship forms part of a National Research Foundation (NRF) African Origins Platform (AOP) research grant to James Brink for a project titled “Early and Middle Pleistocene evolution of large mammal faunas and modern landscapes in southern Africa”. Michael is in charge of studying the formation and post-depositional processes of the Middle to Late Pleistocene sedimentary deposits of the Florisbad site, and the sedimentary sequence of the end-Early Pleistocene site of Cornelia-Uitzoek.



Complete anterior part of an extinct equid

23 February 2009

Extinct Equid

The final preparation of the excavation of a complete anterior part of an extinct equid from the Modder River site of Erfkroon. The specimen was discovered by Britt Bousman, Dept. of Anthropology, Texas State University, and excavated during October 2008. Here Mr Isaac Thapo is preparing the removal of the left forelimb.