Pipe-jacking operations at Silvertondale uncovered human remains at the end of a tunnel 38.8m long and approximately 2.42m below the surface. These were most probably in a grave that was covered by material during the construction of the modern rail bridge over the Moreletta spruit. The construction of the embankment at the eastern side of the newer bridge most probably covered the grave which was just to the south of the 1886 NAZM railway on the eastern bank of the spruit. The remains were fragmentary and poorly preserved and thus difficult to recover. The individual was buried in a coffin, in an extended supine position on its back. The position of the limbs could not be securely determined. Sex determination was carried out in situ. The remains were that of a female, as determined from the wide sciatic notch, presence of a pre-auricular sulcus and gracile facial features. The medial epiphysis of the right clavicle was fused and thus she was most likely older than 30 years. Some cranial suture closure was evident. The shape of the mandibular ramus and nose indicates Caucasoid descent, although other features such as the presence of a low and long skull are more consistent with that of Negroid affinity. Further analysis is needed in this regard. The individual was approximately 168.1 cm tall. No signs of trauma or chronic disease were noted, but pelvic scarring suggests that she gave birth to at least one child. Several beads and pieces of a safety pin were found with the remains. These were submitted for expert analyses which may help in dating the remains. It is suggested that the individual might be related to the early pioneer families of Pretoria. Further investigation in this regard still needs to take place.
Poster presented at the University of Pretoria Health Sciences Faculty Day, August 2008, Pretoria, South Africa.