Program Staff



Chris Henshilwood was born in Cape Town, South Africa and has a B.A. Honours in Archaeology (Distinction) from the University of Cape Town. He then received his training in African archaeology at Cambridge University in England where he read for his Ph.D in southern African archaeology (1995). His major areas of interest are the Later- and Middle Stone Age of southern Africa and the origins of modern human behaviour.

He is a Professor of Archaeology at the Centre for Development Studies, University of Bergen. He has directed excavations at a number of Stone Age sites in South Africa. He now directs the Blombos Cave Project, a long-term major archaeological research project in the southern Cape, South Africa that is contributing significantly to the international debate on the origins of modern human behaviour.

Prof. Henshilwood has lectured widely in Europe, America and southern Africa on the origins of modern humans and the findings at Blombos Cave. He also directs a long-term survey and excavation program located in the De Hoop Nature Reserve, southern Cape, South Africa.

He is director of the African Heritage Research Institute in Cape Town and directs the Cape Field School programme in South Africa. Read his Curriculum Vitae.

CURTIS W. MAREAN, Ph.D. and Professor

Dr. Marean received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1990, and is now a member of the Institute of Human Origins and Department of Anthropology at Arizona State University. His research interests focus on the origins of modern humans, the prehistory of Africa, and the study of animal bones from archaeological sites. In the area of the origins of modern humans, he is particularly interested in questions about foraging strategies, for example when humans became effective hunters of large antelope, and the timing and processes underlying the evolution of modern human behavior. Dr. Marean has a special interest in human occupation of grassland and coastal ecosystems, and the role people play in the form of these ecosystems.

Dr. Marean's primary methodological approach to investigating these questions is zooarchaeology, the study of animal bones, and taphonomy, the study of how bones become fossils. In particular, Dr. Marean focuses on experimental taphonomy and the replication of bone destruction processes with the goal of refining zooarchaeological methods. His work in this area has had a profound impact on zooarchaeological methodology and our understandings of Neanderthals and early modern human hunting behavior. He has recently developed a novel image-analysis zooarchaeological recording system that utilizes GIS software. This approach is a substantial improvement in zooarchaeological methodology.

He is currently directing archaeological excavations, with Dr. Peter Nilssen, at Mossel Bay in South Africa, not far from the De Hoop Nature Reserve.


Karen van Niekerk, B.Sc.(Hons.), M.Phil.
Field School Coordinator

Karen has been field school co-ordinator of the CFS programme since 2002. She is a research member of the Blombos Cave Project and has excavated at Blombos Cave and other sites during the past five years. Her research specialty is marine fauna, in particular fish and shellfish.

Karen has a B.Sc. Honours (Distinction) in archaeology from the University of Cape Town and an M. Phil. (Archaeology) from the University of Bergen, Norway.

Specialist field staff with experience in African archaeology are appointed for each field school. Local field school staff includes a catering supervisor and field assistants.