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Media Release: Archaeological research at Sabi Bridge post in KNP

Date: 2009-07-30

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An archaeological excursion will again be conducted at one of the outposts of the Steinaecker’s Horse unit in the Kruger National Park (KNP) from 2 - 15 August 2009. This time it will be the site at Sabi Bridge, close to Skukuza.

An archaeological excursion will again be conducted at one of the outposts of the Steinaecker’s Horse unit in the Kruger National Park (KNP) from 2 - 15 August 2009. This time it will be the site at Sabi Bridge, close to Skukuza.

The project is lead by the well-known historical archaeologist; Dr. Anton van Vollenhoven and is undertaken by the research department of Archaetnos Archaeologists, of which he is one of the directors. Various students from different universities partake in the excavations every year.

The aim of the Archaetnos Research Department is to do archaeological and historical research. The Steinaecker’s Horse project is now running for its twelfth year. The project is not funded by the South African National Parks (SANParks), but they assist in some of the logistical matters relating to the research.

The Steinaecker’s Horse project was launched in 1997. The current phase will last until 2010. The first phase concentrated on the most Northern outpost of the military unit, close to Letaba. After that the post at Sabi Bridge (Skukuza) and a camp at Ngotso mouth were excavated. The focus now again shifts to the post at Sabi Bridge. This site is situated to the north of the Sabie River and can be seen from the Skukuza Rest Camp.

Steinaecker’s Horse was a military unit who fought on the side of the British during the Anglo-Boer-War (1899 – 1902). The unit consisted of local inhabitants from the Lowveld-region, including the indigenous people who worked as soldiers, servants and chefs. The unit’s most important task was to ensure that the Boers did not make contact with Portuguese supporters in Mozambique, in order to arrange for food and war supplies.

Opportunity for new research

The importance of this project lies within the fact that very little research has been done about the Anglo-Boer-War, from an archaeological perspective. Furthermore it creates the opportunity to do research on the involvement of the indigenous people during the war, an area that did not receive much attention during the past years from researchers.

The terrain at Sabi Bridge is the second largest of the Steinaecker’s Horse sites and consists of various remains of buildings and refuse middens from the time. During this year’s excursion the excavations will concentrate on unearthing the remains of a large building as well as completing the work on the blacksmith area.

It is trusted that it would be possible to determine aspects such as the life style of the unit and get an indication of what things they did to keep them busy apart from the regular war activities. It is hoped that the function of the building to be investigated will also be determined.

The unit also contributed to the founding of the KNP. The adjutant of Steinaecker’s Horse, major A Greenhill-Gardyne stated rules for the preservation of wild life around Sabi Bridge. This document was used by major J Stevenson-Hamilton when he started working as first warden of the park. Quite a few of Steinaecker’s Horse soldiers, such as Harry Wolhuter, became game rangers in the KNP.

Dr. Anton van Vollenhoven, 083 291 6104 or, website:

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