Southern Africa has not only produced some of the oldest fossils of anatomically modern humans, but is now producing significant evidence for the origins of recognisably modern forms of behaviour long before the start of Europe’s Upper Palaeolithic. The subcontinent also boasts a rich and well-understood rock art tradition, research on which has produced powerful new insights into rock engravings and paintings elsewhere in the world. In addition, anthropological research in southern Africa has made a significant contribution to both the development of general models of hunter-gatherer economic and social organization and their ongoing critique.
This course provides a broad overview of some of the main recent developments in the archaeology of southern Africa’s hunter-gatherers. The overall treatment is chronological, from the first anatomically modern humans to the current situation of Bushman communities in the Kalahari. Within this framework, the emphasis is placed on changing paradigms in the explanation of the Later Stone Age past and on the relationship between archaeological and anthropological data for understanding social and economic change among hunter-gatherer societies.
In addition to lectures, tutorials provide an opportunity to explore particular issues in greater depth. Some sixteen tutorial topics have been developed so far and students can choose from among these, or request others not yet taken. All the literature recommended for reading for this option is in English and no prior knowledge of African archaeology is assumed.
Convenor: Prof. Peter Mitchell