Our faculty members have diverse interests. As a result, the department supports a wide range of research programmes, which cover a broad time period spanning from the historical to theevolutionary past. [Note: If you are interested in learning more about faculty research, please visit the web pages of individual faculty members and research associates.] In addition to excavation and museum research, we have extensive laboratory facilities for in-house preparation and analysis of materials, and also house a substantial teaching collection which includes Stone Age lithics, Iron Age materials, historical ceramics, as well as a comparative faunal collection, and hominid casts.
The department has substantial laboratory space devoted to the study of the Pre-colonial History of the Western Cape, focussing on the emergence of early modern humans, hunter-gatherers, andpastoralists. These are equipped with comparative collections of artifactual and some faunal material, as well as light microscopes, measuring equipment, etc. Some of this analysis utilizes in-house GIS capabilities.
In the Historical Archaeology Laboratory, important collections of materials, including archived maps, documents and historical ceramics, are analysed and stored. Work in this area is concerned with the remains of colonial period archaeology in South Africa, from the perspective of both the colonizers and the colonized. An important dimension to this work is the global comparison with other contemporary Dutch and British colonies.
Our Stable Light Isotope Laboratory houses a state-of-the-art light isotope mass spectrometer facility with online and offline preparation systems, maintained and used by the department as well as other interdisciplinary researchers. Much of our research focusses on palaeodiets and palaeoenvironments, in order to investigate questions related to diet and human evolution, Holocene diets and settlement patterns, and long-term climate records.
The Archaeology Materials Laboratory is equipped with a dual metallographic / petrographic microscope, standard microscopes, and facilities for metallurgical specimen production. Projects in this laboratory focus on African metallurgy and its social implications.
Our Morphology Laboratory houses equipment for three dimensional data acquisition and analysis, including a Microscribe 3-D digitizer, as well as a growing collection of hominid casts. Much of the work in this laboratory is focussed on the analysis of craniofacial skeletal remains in contemporary primate and human populations, as well as fossil ancestors, in order to investigate questions of evolutionary process. Additionally, these 3-D methods are useful for analysing the morphology of archaeological remains.
The Stone Age Research Group is dedicated to the study of the behavioral ecology of Stone Age hominins. Our laboratory houses a series of experimental actualistic collections developed to strengthen inferential links between stone age archaeological collections and behavioral patterns of Plio-Pleistocene hominins. The Stone Age Research Group conducts fieldwork in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Our faculty members are also involved in important outreach programmes: The The Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project is a community-based museum and schools curriculum project located in the small country town of Clanwilliam. This project aims to make the results of decades of archaeological research accessible to the broader community, and to foster job creation through promoting heritage-related tourism in the region. Hands-on History Through Heritage is a school-based educational materials development project which focusses on the impressive remains of 18th and 19th century Tswana towns in the Northwest Province. Few people realize that these towns were the largest urban settlements in Southern Africa in the early 19th century. The project will ultimately involve the wider community in researching the social and political structure of these African societies and developing this heritage for their benefit.