The first and (so far) only mummy ever discovered in South
Africa was found in a cave in the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area located in
the Kouga mountains of the Eastern Cape Province last year. The mummy
appears to be related to the Khoi, the indigenous people of the area.
The mummy was made naturally and
is estimated to be 2,000 years old, though no scientific testing has yet
been done. Well-preserved plant bulbs found with the body indicate that it may have been buried in late September, though testing will
This was a natural mummy buried in a hole at the back of the small cave (or rock shelter).
The body was wrapped with the
"boophone" leaf, a plant known for its medicinal (and healing)
qualities. Dr. Johan Binneman who discovered the mummy said that boophone
"has some preservative and insecticide quality as well, which kept
the bacteria and flesh-eating organisms away. The body...simply dried
up." The body was then placed in a large basket woven from plant material,
leaves, and bulbs. Finally, the basket was placed in the burial hole which
was covered with
a large stone.
What's special about the mummy
1. This is the only human
mummy found in South Africa to date.
2. Officials have commented
on its "remarkable state of preservation." (Johannesburg Mail
and Guardian, 7/23/99)
The mummy is currently not on
display, but is being held at the Albany Museum in Grahamstown, South
Africa. The museum is awaiting funding so that some scientific testing may
be carried out. Only the tests are completed, the mummy will most likely
Where to find more information about
As information becomes
available, updates will be posted.