IZIKO MUSEUMS OF CAPE TOWN
(formerly South African Cultural History Museum)
Corner Adderley & Wale Streets, Cape Town
Open: Monday to Saturday 10:00-17.00
Telephone +27 (0)21 460 8242
Closed Sunday, Good Friday and Christmas day.
The South African Cultural History Museum forms part of IZIKO Museums of Cape Town, which include cultural as well as natural history. Artefacts are displayed in a number of buildings situated in and around Cape Town.
The collections of the South African Cultural History Museum are on display in the Slave Lodge, the second oldest building in Cape Town. The original building – erected in 1679 - served as a lodge for the slaves of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). Initially it was a single storey building, but in the mid-18th century a second storey was added. In 1807 the British government moved the slaves to other premises and subsequently the building served as the first post office, library and the Supreme Court.
The ancient Egyptian collection is a small, but comprehensive collection incorporating artefacts from the Predynastic to Roman times. The main bulk of the artefacts dates from the early Dynastic period (3050 – 2686 BC) and was excavated at Kafr-Tarkhan by Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie (d. 1942) on behalf of the British School of Archaeology during the 1911/12 and 1912/13 seasons. Tarkhan is 59 kilometres south of Cairo, but the pottery styles relate to the south, indicating the influence of the southern culture in the First Dynasty.
Sir Flinders Petrie had a South African ‘connection’. His paternal grandparents, Margaret Mitten and William Petrie, resided at the Cape of Good Hope for about ten years from 1829.
One of their sons, William Petrie Junior, married Anne Flinders, daughter of Ann Chappell and Captain Matthews Flinders, the explorer and cartographer of Australia. Their only child, William Matthew Flinders Petrie was born on 3rd June 1853.
Petrie visited Egypt for the first time in the 1880′s. Soon after this he started excavating on behalf of the Egypt Exploration Fund, later to become The Egypt Exploration Society. In 1906 Petrie proposed the formation of the British School of Archaeology in Egypt to support him and his students. He was also known as ‘the father of Egyptian archaeology’ because he was the first person to introduce scientific methods on sites in Egypt, although he had no training as an archaeologist. The portrait was painted in 1934 by Philip de Lazlo.
The Ancient Collection also has a number of artefacts from the Ancient Near East (pottery, cylinder seals, cuneiform tablets), Roman items and a small, but excellent collection of Greek vases (black-on-red and red-on-black).