The fourth Student Development Workshop (SDW) was held between the 3rd and 8th of December 2016, at Groenkloof Nature Reserve in Pretoria. The aim of this workshop was to give Southern African students the opportunity to engage with archaeology students from other SADC countries; as well as bring a larger contingent of SADC students than ever before. Our goal was also to pay for these student’s transport. Students were also given the opportunity to present their research in front of their peers and established archaeologists. We had 40 students from six different countries (South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Malawi), 12 universities, as well as four council members and 19 different speakers (some facilitating more than one session).
Our 2016 SDW group
History of the workshop and council
The inaugural SDW was held in November 2013 near Parys in the Free State. The 5-day workshop addressed issues most relevant to young and aspiring archaeology professionals, and focussed primarily on students who were in their final year of undergraduate study or those enrolled at a postgraduate level. It was during this workshop that the ASAPA Student Council (ASAPASC) was established. The council was co-chaired by Tim Forssman and Matt Lotter; Lu-Marie Fraser as secretary; Jacqueline Jordaan as operations and Simone Brunton as treasurer. The 2013 SDW paved the way for future student support, which was accomplished via social media and the creation of a website. Regular newsletters have since been sent to keep the student body informed on relevant information, events, funding and postgraduate opportunities.
During December 2014, our second workshop was held at the Living Landscape Project centre near Clanwilliam in the Western Cape. It was attended by 22 students, along with our 5 council members. The workshop included talks on what to expect as a postgraduate, including topics such as funding opportunities and research proposals; human evolution and anatomy; wildlife conservation; as well as an outing to a local rock art site. The workshop concluded with a community outreach project together with the Children’s Book Network.
The third Student Development Workshop (SDW) was held between the 30th November and the 5th of December 2015, at Bushtrail Environmental Centre. This was our largest workshop yet and we held our first roundtable session. A new council was elected at the workshop. Lu-Marie Fraser stayed on from the previous council and was elected Chair. The rest of the council consists of: Peter Morrissey (treasurer) (WITS – Masters student), Mariette Harcombe (secretary) (UNISA – Phd candidate), Nthabiseng Mokoena (events organizer) (UCT -PhD candidate) and Rosa Moll (workshop coordinator) (WITS – Masters student).
The 2016 Student Development Workshop
The 2016 SDW was held at Groenkloof Nature Reserves in Pretoria. The venue was ideal as it was situated close to highways, Gautrain and bus stations. This was especially important as a record number of students from outside South Africa attended the 2016 SDW. The SDW was attended by 40 students from the Universities of Pretoria, Johannesburg, Witwatersrand, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Dar e Salaam, Cape Town, Eduardo Mondlane, Lesotho, Malawi, Western Cape and Midlands State University.
Students arrived on the 3rd of December and were welcomed to the workshop following registration and receiving a workshop packet. Lu-Marie Fraser and Dr Catherine Namono opened the workshop by discussing the aims of the student council and the motivation behind the SDW. The workshop schedule was discussed as well as the funders that made this workshop possible.
The next morning, Sunday 4th December, the programme began with a session presented by Mariette Harcombe (UNISA) on academic writing. The session covered a range of different types of academic writing, including writing research and funding proposals, dissertations/theses, and articles intended for publication. A practical session on self-defense followed. The session, presented by Mariette and Etienne Harcombe (from Chang Moo Kwan Taekwondo SA) focussed on teaching the attendees the basic skills necessary to defend themselves from an attack. As archaeologists often spend time alone (or in small groups) in a range of potentially dangerous environments, this session may prove to be very useful to the attendees. This is especially true for female archaeologists who, unfortunately, are more likely to be seen as targets in these situations.
The self-defense session was followed by a team building session. The attendees were divided into groups and then participated in an ‘Amazing Race’, which saw teams competing against the clock to follow clues and complete a circuit within the nature reserve. We then had a fauna practical in which the students learned the basics in morphology, taphonomy and species identification. The faunal analysis was done within the team building groups. The session was presented by Karin Scott (Heritageworx) and our own Lu-Marie Fraser (UP).
The final activity for the day was a Quiz Night. The attendees were divided into their team-building groups, and then competed against each other in an archaeology-themed quiz.
The third day, Monday 5th December, began with a student presentation session. Attendees were given an opportunity to present their own research to the council and other attendees. This session was intended to introduce students to the vital academic skill of presenting their work orally in a setting which was less intimidating than a formal departmental presentation or a conference session. The student presentations were followed by a talk by Mariette Harcombe (UNISA) on how to present research at a conference orally (with a PowerPoint presentation). The session focused on providing constructive criticism on the student presentations; which elements stood out, where improvements can be made and what to avoid when compiling future presentations and talks.
Rosa Moll (WITS) then led a practical session in which students learnt how to knap basic stone tools. This was followed by a talk and practical session on lithic analysis and illustration by Tim Forssman (RARI). This covered the importance of lithic analysis and illustration to archaeology, while also introducing the attendees to some of the techniques that are commonly used.
Foreman Bandama (UCT) gave a presentation on metallurgy in archaeology. He discussed the history of metal production globally, and in Africa. This included the techniques used historically to produce metal and the cultural value and meaning of metal in African societies.
The day ended with a movie screening of the classic film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
The fourth day of the workshop (Tuesday 6th December) began with an Experimental archaeology practical session run by Rosa Moll (WITS) and Graham Reeks (ArchSoc). Students were taught to make spears by hafting lithics to wooden shafts. They tested their spears by ‘hunting’ a gazelle made of wood (to represent the skeleton) and coconut husk (to represent the hide). This session introduced the students to prehistoric hunting technology and techniques while also providing a practical example of the evidence for hunting that can be found on both lithic artefacts and faunal remains.
Next, the isotope presentation aimed at showing the students how isotopes could be used in the laboratory to give direct inference regarding substance of the past, this was presented by Nandi Macemula (UCT). The cultural etiquette presentation taught students how to interact with different groups of people in the field, how to respect people of different ethnic groups, background, religions and culture. They also learnt different approaches to such interactions. This session was presented by Natalie Swanepoel (UNISA).
Dr Catherine Namono (WITS and ASAPA) gave a talk on decolonizing archaeology. Her talk dealt with the importance of decolonizing the discipline and how to actually go about doing this. An important aspect of this is promoting indigenous interest in, and involvement in, archaeology. The session led to a robust debate about the role of archaeologists in the colonial and post-colonial world.
Dr Namono was followed by Nthabiseng Mokoena (WITS) and Mpho Maripane (UP), who spoke about community archaeology and outreach. The presentations highlighted how community archaeology and outreach has become important in our discipline over the past few years, with increasing need to educate the public comes a growing responsibility of the archaeological community to provide information and active involvement.
The final session of the day was devoted to the archaeology of Mozambique, a topic which is seldom discussed in South Africa. A presentation was given by Decio Jose Muianga from the University of Eduardo Mondlane, Maputo. Along with a general summary of Mozambican archaeology, he also spoke in more detail about the underwater archaeology of the country.
On the fifth day, Wednesday 7th December, Mr Francois Coetzee (UNISA) presented a basic survey and equipment handling practical, this session the students learned about the basis of the site survey, how to use dumpy level, total station, GPS and many other tools. This session also included a practical where students measured a mock excavation.
In the session on site drawings, presented by Lesley Deysel (Trent Art Gallery) the students learned how to document during archaeological field work. Lesley continued with a follow-up session on technical illustrations which, as with site drawings, adds additional dimension to documentation and may even highlight certain features that remain unclear in photography.
Matt Lotter of UP presented a talk and practical session on the production of maps in archaeology. The session was particularly focussed on computer-based techniques for creating maps and involved the attendees producing their own maps using data they had collected during the earlier field session.
Anza Mehnert (UNISA Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology) presented on artifact storage and photography. Correct artifact storage is just as crucial as uncovering the objects in the first place. Improper storage can lead to damage including, environmental and even chemical. The second part of the session was a brief practical exercise dealing with artifact photography; the proper use of scale, correct lighting and basic equipment.
Matt Lotter (UP) gave a presentation on Geoarchaeology to end the day. This presentation was aimed at introducing the attendees to this under-utilised discipline and presenting case studies on how its application can improve archaeological research.
The last day of the workshop featured two presentations and an outing. The first presentation was conducted by Stephany Van der Walt (PSG Heritage). She discussed the importance of having a well-written CV, and took the students through the art of writing a good one. Her presentation also focussed on the career opportunities available in the field of Cultural Resource Management (CRM), an often overlooked and very important part of the discipline of archaeology.
Anton van Vollenhoven (Archaetnos) gave a talk on military archaeology, which was especially focussed on Pretoria during the South African War (commonly known as the Anglo-Boer War or the Boer War). He discussed the history of the fortification of the city by the Transvaal Boers and their allies and, after the capture of Pretoria, by the British. This session was followed by an outing to Fort Schanskop and Fort Klapperkop, both of which had been discussed in the preceding talk.
We asked the students to vote on their favorite sessions, and these were the results:
First and foremost, the Southern African Archaeology Students Council would like to thank PAST for their generous financial contributions to the running of the Student Development Workshop. Without PAST’s involvement, the event would not have been the success that it was. PAST’s funding was also instrumental in bringing in students from outside South Africa, which was extremely beneficial to all parties, as well as the future of archaeology in southern Africa.
We would like to acknowledge the support given by various Universities, who actively promoted student attendance of our SDW via their official channels of communication. University support is also shown, indirectly, through the participation of University staff in the SDW as presenters. Also, we thank the ASAPA Council for their help and support throughout the planning phase of this workshop and over its course as well. A special word of thanks also goes out to Catherine Namono (ASAPA Chair) for her presence at the workshop, which provided much needed guidance and support. Additional thanks must also go to each and every speaker; especially for them taking the time to come and talk to the students and sharing their skill and passion.
Standing: Mariette Harcombe and Rosa Moll
Seated: Peter Morrissey, Lu-Marie Fraser and Nthabiseng Mokoena
“The workshop was very helpful indeed, we really enjoyed thank you guys. The workshop to me has become a great experience of what I was learning in the class because I did more practically than theoretically, thanks for organising this event and make the experience of meeting different people with different ideology. Your such a great team work. Hoping to participate on next workshop, I will try to tell everyone what I learned from you, thank you so much for this opportunity. Thanks to PAST for being our core sponsors. We will try our best to promote our African Archaeology and reach where we want to be. Thank you” – Rahma Mpangala
“It was the best experience academically and socially. I had encounters with the staff and students from different countries at personal level. This is good for my interest in languages, LSA, rock art and archaeology. I got an idea of how broad archaeology is and how you cannot box different fields as overlap into one another. It was the best experience and now I know that I took the right career path.” – Lesiba Phahladira
“I absolutely loved it. It was extremely informative and really fun. I actually had a hard time choosing my top 3 favorite sessions because they were all brilliant.” – Hayley Griesel
“Workshop was really interesting. Liked the diversity of information received. Venue worked well. Catering for evening meals was superb.” – Karin Scott
“This workshop introduced me to a whole new world of ideas and archaeological concepts.” – Michelle Rita Hall
“This was an awesome opportunity to meet new people and expand my knowledge. I will definitely be participating in next years workshop again.” – Michelle Joubert
“I left before the workshop was concluded and I am just heart broken to have missed out on the remaining issues.” – Edwin Leshalabe
“Besides gaining all the rich knowledge at the workshop, i am very proud that I gained the experience and confidence in presenting a paper.” – Ephraim Mwaita
“The workshop was so interesting to attend because it granted us an opportunity to share ideas as international students basically on different careers in archaeology as well as archaeological sites to discover in different countries. However, most of the sessions favored South African students over others because most of the things taught and examples made were mainly for South Africans.” – Nthebeleng Rantso
“It was great workshop..rich in knowledge for the discipline. The workshop was a great learning opportunity for me, all the sessions provided important information. Thank you for a great experience.” – Lulama Malao
“Very informative and a ton of fun. More practical sessions could be better.” – Antoine Rossouw
“I am indebted to the workshop organizers particularly Nthabiseng and her team for the very wonderful job. Their welcoming was so nice and they made me feel at home. I liked the accommodation, food and the security was also fine. My staying in Pretoria and participation in the workshop was even more comfortably.
All the topics covered during the workshop were useful in my field of study. As for day 1, academic writing for dissertation, thesis and publication opened my eyes even when I come across the writing am competent enough now to do so. For Fauna practical section was so interesting to me for example I didn’t know how to differentiate between animals who can climb trees and who cannot by looking to their bones, the different shapes of the long bones, the femur and humerus, and so many other things, many thanks to Karin Scott.
For the 2nd day, student presentation made me be aware of different archaeological sites with their potentiality and also I learnt how other students from other universities learn about archaeology. For the decolonization of archaeology section, thanks so much to Dr. Catherine Namono for the encouragement, motivation words to us African women as young archaeologist upcoming. She made my future even brighter within this field. The knapping and hafting made me feel like the real past human ancestors, it made me feel the real Homo habilis, as it made me trace my mind back how ancients used a lot of thinking of how to survive by making tools by using stones. Now I know how they made their tools and used them.
For the 3rd day, community archaeology gave me knowledge of what to do when am in the field with the community surrounding me, so as to make them understand even more about their past and also could be one way of spreading archaeology as a discipline and make people more interested in archaeology. The Mozambique archaeology as well it explored me to Mozambique heritage so much which is very interesting indeed. The 4th day, the surveying part it made me to be more accurate during serving in field, but also I now know how to do mapping. In 5th day I learnt how to write my CV as there it’s the place to market myself. Generally the workshop helped me a lot even in things I didn’t mention but all programs were of so much useful to me as a young archaeologist.
When I came back to my country I shared my experience with my other fellow students and the response was excellent they also learned a lot, our knowledge expanded and wished next time the number of students attending to the workshop from Tanzania be increased. It was a great experience and interaction too with other students from Southern Africa countries, also with presenters I made connection which I believe it will be of much impact to my future archaeology life. But also changing the weather was a great experience. As for now I don’t regret taking archaeology and wish to go even more further.” – Neema Clement Munis
“Generally, there was a good coordination between the organisers and students/ participants on the issue of transport. They were able to fund those who were unable to travel to the workshop on their own such that there is no other person who can say he or she failed to come to the workshop due to transport problems. They did not just stop there but they even came to different stations to take us to the venue of the workshop especially to the international students. This was very important because some of us it was our first time to be in South Africa and we could have had problems in coming to the place of the workshop. For this the organizers need to be appreciated.
The venue of the conference was designed in a way that it was far away from town which gave us an opportunity not to be disturbed by noise from the city. The Gloenkloof Game Reserve where the workshop was conducted is an ideal place for academic workshop because it is a very quiet place and everyone could concentrate. Even the place where students were sleeping was a very good place. Although both males and females had to share rooms but I never heard of anyone complaining of this arrangement.
During this year’s student development workshop there were about twenty three sessions in which students participate with twenty speakers discussing on different issues in the field of archaeology. It is not within the scope of this report to say which presentation was the best. However, it is suffice to say the presentations were nice and presenters really took their time to prepare for their sessions. We really learnt things beyond classroom setup. We were able to learn even those things that we did not have an opportunity to learn in classrooms. However, one session I could have loved to have on the program was on how to write a project proposal to access funding for our fieldwork. I also could have love to learn what students can do to have an opportunity for further studies.
To me 2016 student development workshop organized by Southern African Archaeological Student Council was a success. There was a lot that the students leant which I believe will be helpful to their career as archaeologists. I loved it because besides being an academic forum it also had a social part such that we were able to make new friends. It my prayer that funds should be available so that we may have the similar event next year in 2017.” – Mr. Kingsley Pamanda
“Generally the workshop was good and very productive; everything that I have learned in the
workshop added knowledge and gave me new ideas about my carrier. In the workshop I have
learned a lot and everything was so important but to my side because I enjoy much of analysis I liked the sessions of fauna and lithic analysis. Also the session of site drawing, basic survey and equipment handling practical, knapping course and on top of that is academic writing for dissertation, proposal, research and any article for publication also there are so many sessions to mention the few.
All the sessions benefited the students in one way or another, because many of the things presented and taught in the workshop they can hardly be found in the university lectures. All the sessions were very important but I would like to say something about the two sessions; about the basic site surveying and equipment handling practical and academic writing. As we all know it is so expensive to go to the site but the workshop gave the opportunity even for those who never been to the site to experience how to do the survey and how use the tools in the field. Also many students including myself wants to continue with their studies from Bachelor degree, Honors, Masters and even PhD but with no academic writing skills that dream is impossible, that is why the session of academic writing was so useful for many of us.
I have shared the knowledge and the experience I have got from the workshop with my Tanzanian students from University of Dar Es Salaam (UDSM), they all liked the programme and most of them wish to get the opportunity to attend the next workshop.
But all in all I would like to give my special appreciation to Southern Archaeology Students
Council and the organizers of the Student Development Workshop for their support in our academics by preparing such workshop which will enrich our lives as archaeologist and heritage managers and improve the disciplines as whole, it have been such a wonderful experience attending the workshop.” – Tabitha Elias
“Artifact photography – not site photography – A full day session of taking photo’s and then manipulating the images. Other countries archaeology like the Mozambique session. Not only African countries also other international countries. So that students can get exposure to international archaeology. Excavation/Field methodology. Marine / Underwater archaeology – Jaco Boshoff.” – Karin Scott
“A session on CRM archaeology would be great. Also I would suggest small groups for field techniques. Create 4 to 6 small groups and different practical activities (site mapping, drawing, excavation techniques, etc) then rotate the groups between the different activities. This will allow for a more personal experience and cover all the basic skills within a limited amount of time.” – Michelle Joubert
“What is contract archaeology and how to be self-employed, to establish an environmental agency business and who are the people involved in this kind of a field?” – Edwin Leshalabe
“More days for the workshop, more archaeological practicals and at least archaeological sites visit experience.” – Rahma Mpangala
“Sessions dealing with anthropological fieldwork.” – Lulama Malao
“I would like to have a type of a physical activity in between the sessions to shake off the sleepiness and being tired. I would like to see more of the games and chats around the fire with all people at the fire-does not have to be a drinking game but inclusive of all participants.” – Lesiba Phahladira
“Number of days increased. Hands-on training continued. Conducting the workshops in different Southern African countries in a rotational way.” – Neema Clement Munis
“The workshop was good and well organized but I would like to like give out my advice to the organizer of the workshop, first the organizers should add more days of the workshop activities so as we can get more time to learn and master things by doing more practices on what we have learned. And second I would like the organizer to give special recognition for the students who came from far regions, as we all like to participate in all the activities even of the workshop even those activities which mark the end of the workshop, talking about us the students from Tanzania we did not get a chance to participate in the last session of outing-talks at fort nearby, this was because we had to leave early so that we can catch our flight to go home. But if the organizers could put a day of departure with no activities we could all participate in everything and the next day we could all go home without anyone missing anything from the workshop.” – Tabitha Elias
“I loved the sessions because they were practical in nature. However, for thorough understanding of the whole archaeological work I would suggest that students would be exposed to a real archaeological fieldwork. The council may link or even sponsor the students to any archaeological work where students can be fully involved in the whole project so that they may see what really happens on ground. This may even provide students with an opportunity to further their studies since some projects do have funding for furthers studies. Maybe in future we will write our own proposals and fieldwork as students with guidance from professional archaeologists and then get funding from where we can go to the field together as students.” – Mr. Kingsley Pamanda
The Southern African Archaeology Student Council