City of Joburg

Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo

Johannesburg Zoo


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Construction of a new multi-story parkade at Johannesburg Zoo has been interrupted by the discovery of a historic midden, or refuse heap.

The entrance to the Zoo's parking area on Upper Park Drive
The entrance to the Zoo's parking area on Upper Park Drive, which closed for construction on 10 June.

The discovery, made by contractors working on the site of the Zoo's closed parking area on Upper Park Drive on 23 July, has attracted the interest of archaeologists, whose preliminary investigations suggest that the find could be over 100 years old.

Among the remains found mixed in with what looked like a layer of ash were bones and broken ceramics and glass, including plates, teapots and medicine bottles.

The South African Heritage Resources Agency (Sahra) was brought in to help heritage consultants, who are working with Joburg City Parks and Zoo on heritage aspects of the parkade construction, to identify the remains.

"They are currently running tests and have indicated that their investigation might take three months," the City of Joburg said in a statement. "Their preliminary findings suggest that the remains might be over 100 years old."

Sahra has recommended that construction be halted until the investigation is completed.

Brendan Hart of Mayat Hart Architects and Heritage Consultants has since confirmed that the bones are not human remains but those of animals.

Hart told Rosebank Killarney Gazette that the discovery offered a unique opportunity to gather information on the early history of this part of the city. According to the Gazette, an application to excavate the site has been submitted to Sahra.