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Monthly Archives: August 2013


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Notice: Going on excavation!


For the next two week’s the Archaeology Honours students are going on excavation. Be sure to check this website (to the right under recent photographs), Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for regular updates live from the field!


Mpho Maripane teaches high school students about Archaeology (Part 1)

As part of Mpho Maripane’s (Archaeology Honours student) community engagement project this year, she decided to teach Mamelodi High School students about Archaeology and what it is all about. Last week Mpho explained what Archaeology is and what Archaeologists do, in an Introduction to Archaeology class. This weekend, Mpho taught the students about the Archaeological process itself. She started by explaining the tools used by Archaeologists and their purpose:

* Click on any image to enlarge

pre-excavationShe then explained the data sheets they would have to fill in during and after their mock excavation:

tools pre-excavation

Mpho explaining what they would be doing, and how the mock excavation would work. The students then split into two teams and had to be accountable for their own team’s artefacts. The students then started to excavate and had great fun doing so:

excavation 1 excavation 2

While some students were excavating, others were recording their team’s finds. Finds included:
* Faunal remains
* Metal objects
* Glass objects
* Charcoal
* and a few modern day objects in the upper layer

finds finds describe

The mock excavation had three layers, here the ash layer and light brown layer can be seen as they were uncovered:


A student going through the discarded soil to make sure no artefacts were missed. And so the excavation comes to an end:

done exc

All the students then had to finish off their recording sheets by documenting all the artefacts. They had to fill in details such as:
* What the artefact was made of
* The artefact’s measurements etc.


Once all the artefacts were recorded, the students had to separate their artefacts by type:


Once they had all the information from the artefacts, each team gave a short presentation about:
* What type of people lived in the box
* What their day to day life was like
* The artefacts they utilised and what this meant
* Any other observations


The group photograph:


All in all it was a great learning experience for all involved. Next the students will be talking a field-trip to the University of Pretoria to visit the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology. To be continued!


Recap: ArchSoc Lecture & the Hanisch Prize

The annual Pretoria ArchSoc lecture in conjunction with UPAS (15th of August) was a huge success! Political and economic interactions in the hinterland of the Mapungubwe polity by Dr Alexander Antonites was fascinating and sparked a lot of questions afterwards.

lectureLeft: Mr Graham Reeks (ArchSoc)

The Hanisch Prize for Excellence in Postgraduate Studies in Archaeology was also awarded to three students for the year of 2012:

Kefilwe Rammutloa – Undergraduate
Bongumenzi Nxumalo – Honours
Zurethe Collins – Masters

prizeMr Graham Reeks (ArchSoc) and Prof. Pikirayi (UP) awarding the prize to Kefilwe Rammutloa (Left) and Bongumenzi Nxumalo (Right)

20130815_205404Left: Dr Alexander Antonites answering questions

This annual lecture series by ArchSoc is a great initiative and for any and all future events by ArchSoc (Trans-Vaal Branch) be sure to keep an eye on the Events List for 2013.


Recap: Professor Revil Mason Seminar

Professor Revil Mason Seminar

20130814_123509Dr. Ndlovu introducing Prof. Mason

Yesterday Professor Revil Mason gave a seminar on southern African Archaeology to the students, staff and guests of the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology of the University of Pretoria. The lecture was educational and it was fascinating to hear first hand accounts of now famous excavations in southern Africa. Professor Mason showed a series of images and explained each one in conjunction with interesting facts and some background information.


To thank Professor Mason for sharing his wealth of knowledge with the students, Kefilwe Rammutloa, the chairperson of the University of Pretoria Archaeological Society for students (UPAS), presented Professor Mason with a token of their appreciation.

20130814_132606Prof. Mason and Kefilwe Rammutloa

The seminar was a very successful learning experience for all.

20130814_132719 Dr. Ndlovu and Prof. Mason


Professor Revil Mason Seminar – Today

Professor Revil Mason Seminar

mason today

The Department of Anthropology and Archaeology in conjunction with the University of Pretoria Archaeological Society for students (UPAS) brings you:

Southern African Archaeology then and now

Professor Revil Mason, formerly with the University of the Witwatersrand (1953-1989), is a well know and highly accomplished South African born archaeologist. He studied archaeology at the University of Cape Town under Professor John Goodwin, South Africa’s first professional archaeologist. Professor Mason was employed by Mr van Riet Lowe in 1953 to excavate Cave of Hearths, and this was the beginning of a long and highly successful career in archaeology.

Professor Mason will be giving a lecture on southern African archaeology, particularly focusing on his early and current work on Sotho-Tswana archaeology. Through the experience of this pioneer, the lecture will take you on a journey on how far southern African archaeology has come.

Date: Thursday, 14 August 2013
Time: 12:30
Venue: Humanities Building (HSB 8/18), University of Pretoria, Hatfield Campus, Lynnwood Road, Pretoria

 Hope to see you all there!

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ArchSoc Lecture – Thursday August 15, 2013

archsoc header

Upcoming ArchSoc (The South African Archaeological Society) Lecture:

Political and economic interactions in the hinterland of the Mapungubwe polity
Dr Alexander Antonites
(Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Pretoria)


Date: Thursday 15 August, 2013
Time: 20:00
Venue: Sci-Enza Building, University of Pretoria
Charge: ArchSoc and UPAS members: free
Non-members: R30
Contact Person: Pamela Küstner (012 365 3608) for more details

Complimentary sherry will be served.
The lecture is being presented in partnership with the student body, UPAS – the University of Pretoria Archaeological Society.

Hinterland communities are often cast as passive participants in regional metanarratives. Excavations on the Mutamba site yielded multiple strands of information that suggest the need to reappraise the accepted view of such societies as being inert and un-influential in regional dynamics. Research suggests that assumptions of domination, based solely on differences of complexity, are ill founded. Rather, the heartland’s interaction with hinterland communities was one of forging networks that were more concerned with the wealth of people than economic control. It is clear that hierarchy formation in the heartland co-occurred with the horizontal expansion of social relations through networking strategies in the hinterland. On a regional scale, this resulted in a society with a weak vertical control and a fluctuating, flexible system of horizontal integration.

Dr Alexander Antonites received his BA in anthropology and archaeology and his MA in archaeology from the University of Pretoria. After working as a contract archaeologist he joined UNISA as a junior lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology. He received his PhD (with distinction) from Yale University. His current research emphasises social processes in the Mapungubwe political centre, concentrating on the smaller communities occupying the larger hinterland.


New Article by Prof. Innocent Pikirayi

Stone architecture and the development of power in the Zimbabwe tradition AD 1270 – 1830 by Prof. Innocent Pikirayi

Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa
Volume 48, Issue 2, 2013
Special Issue: Monumentality in Africa
Published online: 26 Jun 2013

Pikirayi, Innocent_009 web

This article can be found in the UP Online Library and on the Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa website.


Within the Zimbabwe Culture, stone architecture was not a mere reflection of the existing power of élites; rather, the process of creating architecture was also one of creating élite power. Creating architecture involved manipulation of the ‘natural’ environment, the elements of which were extended or appropriated to constitute the built environment. There is a clear relationship between architecture and ‘natural’ power, which provided links with the ancestral world. Thus, the construction of monumental architecture in the Zimbabwe Culture was a process of constructing social and political power through the manipulation of ideology, including the appropriation of ‘nature’. The Great Zimbabwe and Khami architectural styles express two distinct architectural forms with two distinct conceptual relationships to nature. Great Zimbabwe (AD 1290–1550) period architecture was apparently an extension of the natural environment, while Khami (AD 1400–1800) architecture arrogated elements of nature wholly transforming them into monumental built environments. Understanding these ideological differences is critical to understanding the dynamics of ancient states on the Zimbabwe Plateau.

Keywords: Great Zimbabwe, Khami, architecture, ideology, appropriation, built environment, domination

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