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Click to view larger image! For a number of years Prof. Christopher Henshilwood and his colleagues have convened field schools for international and local archaeology students in the southern Cape, South Africa. In conjunction with Prof. Curtis W. Marean of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University, Prof. Henshilwood has set up a field school program. There is one field school annually three months duration from January-April. The field school is also suitable for students of Anthropology, Botany and Zoology .


The Western Cape, the southernmost province of South Africa, has been occupied by people for more than a million years and is an area rich in archaeological sites.

Location of South Africa on African Continent
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We have selected the spectacular De Hoop Nature Reserve, about 200 km east of Cape Town, as the main location for the field school. Many coastal caves here contain well preserved Later- and Middle Stone Age deposits. For a number of years Prof. Henshilwood has been surveying sites in De Hoop with the aim of finding a site that will complement the ongoing research and excavations at nearby Blombos Cave.

In 2002,excavations commenced at a Later Stone Age site known as Vaalkrans Shelter, overlooking the Indian Ocean and located within De Hoop Nature Reserve. The shelter contains deposit of an unknown depth with excellent preservation of organic deposits. Of particular interest are the well preserved fish bones and plant materials. Excavations continue here annually and focus on extending the excavation both vertically and horizontally.

Click to view larger image! Excavation is carefully supervised by Prof. Henshilwood and Karen van Niekerk. Under their supervision you will have the opportunity to be trained in excavation techniques and then participate in this dig. Prior to excavation, students first attend lectures in Cape Town on southern African archaeology, ranging from human evolution up to the colonial period in the Cape.
This is followed by five weeks in the field at De Hoop, with practical training in the geology, coastal and terrestrial ecology of the area, as well as faunal and shellfish identification, and lithic technology. By joining the Cape Field School you can become a part of this program. Site Surveying