• Name: Paul McLerran
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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Archaeological Survey Opportunities in South Africa

When participating in a dig, most of us have little exposure to the various methodologies used in the pre-excavation, survey phase of a project. Here is a chance to gain a meaningful, in-depth exposure to archaeological survey work, an essential part of the total process of archaeological research. From now through December of 2007 there are opportunities for both volunteers and students to participate in groundbreaking archaeological survey work in the Soutpansberg mountain range of South Africa. The region has been host to human habitation from the Early Stone Age (2,000,000 years ago) to the later Iron Age period. The research results have the potential to generate new archaeological projects designed to uncover human settlement patterns and lifeways of early humans in Africa. The following excerpt from the website describes the nature of the work:

Archaeological research in South Africa has traditionally focused on single site, intensive research rather than on regional, extensive surveys. This has resulted in a continuous growth of settlement data which is however, not interchangeable in a systematic and controlled fashion. The Soutpansberg High Altitude Settlement Survey (SHASS) will aim at documenting all the historic and prehistoric features resulting from human activities along the high altitude regions of the western Soutpansberg. The objective is to formulate a working directory of sites in the area for future research, based on a Geographic Information System (GIS) platform. An extensive description of the project will be provided on request. Volunteers will be expected to manage and summarize regional archaeological survey data for the Soutpansberg node. This information will be gathered by transect surveys with a Global Positioning System (GPS) providing raster information for the plotting of archaeological phenomenon. The data will then be fed to a lab-based GIS system where data will be managed and analysed. In the lab environment, further digital information will be mated with the gathered geographical information. Equipment used will include GPS, GIS, Pocket PC and various camera formats for the field, notebook and desktop computers, measuring and weighting equipment, studio photography and microscopic analysis.

As part of the program, project participants will also visit numerous cultural sites in South Africa.

Does this interest you? Find out more at the website.


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