Skeletons unearthed at Cape Town Waterfront

Hundreds of human skeletons have been unearthed at a construction site at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, in Cape Town—the site of BP’s new head office—the Cape Times reported on Wednesday.

Construction in the area has been halted while archaeologists from the University of Cape Town (UCT) excavate the human bones. The skeletons, being found as random bones, appear to have been dumped together in a trench about 20m long and 1,8m wide, probably some time after 1865. In some areas they are densely packed about a metre deep.

The paper said initial observations by archaeologists are that the skeletons were originally buried elsewhere and then removed and dumped in the trench, as there is no evidence of individual graves.

Bits of wood, presumably from coffins, and two iron coffin handles have been found among the bones, many of which are broken.

This is the latest in a series of discoveries of human skeletons on the western side of the city, unearthed to make way for redevelopments.

The bones at the Waterfront were uncovered two weeks ago in a corner of the Portswood Ridge West site, owned by the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Company.

Waterfront spokesperson Carol Cowan said the foreman had immediately stopped excavation and contacted Dave Halkett of UCT’s archaeology contracts office.

Halkett said on Tuesday their staff had been monitoring the site since September. When the bones were unearthed, they shut down construction work on that area of the site and reported the find to the police and to the South African Heritage Resources Agency (Sahra), as required by law. - Sapa

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