Cape Field School Programme
South Africa

The Cape Field School programme is held annually during the South African summer months of February- May and again in spring from September December. The school offers a rare opportunity to learn about southern African archaeology from both a theoretical and practical perspective. The program is particularly suited to archaeology graduates and undergraduates who wish to become archaeologists. However, it will also benefit students who have an interest in social anthropology, ecology, zoology and botany. Students will participate in classroom and excavation activities during an intensive twelve week field school based in Cape Town and at De Hoop Nature Reserve

Download the Cape Field Introductory Guide
Download the January to April 2007 Itinerary


The Field School is divided into a number of modules
Module 1 consists of a week of formal classes held at the African Heritage Research Institute in Cape Town. Expert local archaeologists and historians provide a detailed theoretical background to the southern African Stone Ages. The Field School then moves to De Hoop Nature Reserve for the next 6 weeks. African Heritage Research Institute
Module 2 provides two week's practical training in field craft, geology, faunal osteology, shellfish identification, lithic technology, surveying, site location and recording and assessing site potential.
A practical exam on faunal osteology, shellfish and lithics follows.
Site Surveying
Osteology practical
Module 3 focuses on hands-on training in all aspects of site excavation. Students receive practical training in laying out a site, excavation techniques, processing and recording finds and finds analysis. For two weeks we excavate a Later Stone Age site, Vaalkrans Shelter, located in De Hoop. Excavation is on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and Wednesday is spent sorting and analysing the recovered material. Each artifact larger than 2 cm is piece plotted using XYZ co-ordinates during excavation and then identified to body part, species, raw material etc. This information is entered on a record sheet and plotted on graph paper. The artifact is placed in a zip top bag with the relevant information recorded on the bag.
Click to view larger image! Thus, the excavation process is slow but accurate and theoretically each piece recovered could be placed back in the exact position from which it was recovered. This information is vital when we look at spatial patterning within the site and tells us how people organised their activities within the cave.Students are expected to keep a detailed field journal that is evaluated, as is the performance of field and analysis tasks.
Potberg Education Centre
During Module 4 students design and make an informative poster on a topic of their choice relating to ecology or archaeology in the De Hoop area. The information included should be accessible to a diverse, non-archaeologist audience. There is a 15 minute presentation of the findings on your poster to local school children during an open day at the centre. Click to view larger image! Click to view larger image!
Module 5 comprises a 2 week tour of archaeological sites within the Western Cape. This includes staying for a week near Blombos Cave; two nights at Plettenberg Bay visiting Nelson Bay Cave and Matjes River; two nights at McGregor for a wine tour of the region and three nights in the Cederberg. Here we visit well known rock art sites and Hollow Rock Shelter. We then return to Cape Town.
Blombos cave
Rock art at Cederberg
Blombos cave Cederberg rock art
During Module 6 you spend 4 weeks in Cape Town. This time is set aside for researching an essay topic that is handed in after Week 3. It is then evaluated and you are given your final grade before you return to Norway. Cape Town