Archaeology of the industrialisation and social development at a Silver Mine in the greater Pretoria region from 1889 to 1927

South Africa is a land in which mining has played a pivotal role over the last one hundred and fifty years. Silver was one of the metals prospected for and mined during the 1885-1895 period. There were a few silver mines that developed into very successful operations and produced large tonnages of argentiferous lead or copper and the largest of these, and the primary focus of this thesis, was the mine now referred to as the Argent silver mine. This thesis is about the development of mineral beneficiation technology, coupled with excavations and the analysis of the lifeways of the black mine workers at the Argent mine. I intend to follow the trend taken by some archaeologists over the last ten years for such sites in both the UK and the USA and combine an industrial archaeological study with the social or historical archaeological study. This holistic multi-disciplinary approach to industrial or mining sites and their communities helps to provide a more integrated analysis of humans and technology at a particular site (Norris 2009; Ford 2011; Tumberg 2012; Cowie 2015). The Argent Silver Mine appears to have been at the forefront of new and developing mining beneficiation technologies, both in the 1890s and the 1920s. This thesis will show how many of the new beneficiation technologies were apparently employed at the Argent mine before being brought into more general use in other mining industries, such as gold, in South Africa. The social development of South Africa’s black people, from the late nineteenth century, has been one of repression and enforced living conditions. From a formerly agrarian and rural lifestyle they became cogs in the wheels of industrialisation and foremost in this industrial jump, was the mining industry. Mining began in the 1870s with diamonds at Kimberley and gold at Pilgrim’s Rest in eastern Mpumalanga. It was, however, the finding of gold on the Witwatersrand that opened up so many mining industries, of which silver mining was but one, coupled with ancillary engineering support industries. It was this industrialisation that was to change black lives forever and to create the urban black populations of South Africa today. The results of this thesis provide evidence of their lifeways and potential employment positions on a silver mine.
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Science, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, 2019
Reeks, Graham Walter (2019) Archaeology of the industrialisation and social development at a silver mine in the greater Pretoria region from 1889 to 1927 /|cGraham Walter Reeks, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, <>