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The old school yard of the Paarl Public School for Boys is located on what can be considered the last undisturbed historic property in the centre of old Paarl. The school yard borders the Zomerlust Guest House, former mansion of the De Villiers family, who owned Zomerlust farm from the 19th century until the early 1990s.

The Eugène Marais Foundation (EMF) contacted the HF to conduct an archaeological survey of the old school yard, to examine its potential contribution towards the rich history of 19th century Paarl. The connection between the school yard and Eugène Marais could also be extended, especially if the archaeological study is done within the context of the EMF’s broader aims and more than 40 identified themes of interest.

One could ask: how would Eugène Marais have approached such a project today? What questions would he have asked? How would he have interpreted the potential information? How would he have conveyed the results – as a poem, a story, a lecture? And, perhaps most importantly, what would such a project have meant to him in light of today’s polarised heritage interests?
According to Johan Nel, the HF’s Heritage Conservation Manager, “the EMF’s decision to consider the archaeological component within the broader restoration project of the old school yard and buildings – to create layered meaning and context for the project and site – is thoughtful and in keeping with Marais’ innovative line of thought”
Visit www.eugene-marais.org.za for more information about the Eugène Marais Foundation.

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