South Africa-Spitzkloof B


Spitzkloof is as series of three neighboring rockshelters in the Richtersveld region of Namaqualand, a coastal desert in the northwest corner of South Africa. Although desolate, transhumant pastoralists, the descendants of those still live here, thrived in this landscape for millennia.  Our work at Spitzkloof is aimed at understanding how some of the world’s earliest fully modern human societies adapted to challenging African environments over the past 200,000 years, of the behavioral flexibility that so epitomizes our species – flexibility that enabled us to colonize the globe and in the process out-compete our less versatile archaic cousins, including the Neanderthals, Denisovans, and so-called ‘Hobbits’.  The three Spitzkloof Rockshelters – designated A, B and C – form the ‘backbone’ of our research in Namaqualand. The goal of the 2014 field season is to continue excavating at Spitzkloof B and to conduct archaeological and geomorphological surveys in the surrounding area.

South Africa Archaeology Field School - Institute for Field Research Field Schools South Africa-Spitzkloof B18-352014-06-20
Course Dates: Jul 20 - Aug 22 2014
Enrollment Status: CLOSED 
Total Cost: $ 4,650 
Course Type: Field Archaeology
Instructors: Dr. Brian Stewart, Dr. Genevieve Dewar



Brian Stewart

Dr. Brian Stewart

Dr. Brian Stuart ( is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Assistant Curator at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of Michigan.  For more information, click here
Genevieve Dewar

Dr. Genevieve Dewar

Dr. Dewar ( is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto.  For more information, click here


“I fell in love with South Africa the previous year when I visited Cape Town as a member of a small research project. Naturally, when I saw the Spitzkloof fieldschool being offered I was immediately drawn to it. Spitzkloof, being my virgin dig, offered the unique combination of extreme camping and intense learning in archaeological field methods that suited my learning style perfectly. Using a trowel to peel context after context for the first time was intimidating in the beginning but with the kind, patient, and knowledgeable guidance it quickly became my second nature. The work was highly rewarding and the unparallel beauty of the Succulent Karoo Biome served as a flawless backdrop. The experience was unforgettable and I still find myself daydreaming about Spitzkloof. I would highly recommend the Spitzkloof fieldschool to any hardy, curious, and adventurous student.”

-Madgalena Sobol, University of Toronto (2012)

“Spitzkloof was an amazing opportunity to learn first hand experience from two of the most well educated professionals in the field of archeology. They not only teach how to work in the field but also teach you camp comrardery and how to live in the field. It was an overall amazingly educational trip.”

-Jon Engelhardt, University of Toronto (2012)

“Spitzkloof was an amazing experience. The on site hands-on training provided an extensive introduction to archaeological methods as well as an understanding of all aspects which go into a successful dig.  It was a great combination of meeting amazing new people and great food – an altogether fantastic experience.”

-Sarah Kivisto, University of Toronto (2012)




Student Fees

Early Enrollment Begins November 15 - Full payment must be received by April 1  
(Full Payment = Deposit + Tuition)
 Payment by Cashier or Personal Check Payment by Credit Card/Debit Card
Deposit:500 USD Deposit: 510 USD 
Tuition: 4,150 USD Tuition: 4,240 USD 

Late Enrollment Begins April 2 - Full payment must be received 10 days prior to course start date
(Full Payment = Deposit + Tuition)
 Payment by Cashier or Personal Check Payment by Credit Card/Debit Card
Deposit:500 USD Deposit: 510 USD 
Tuition: 4,250 USD Tuition: 4,340 USD 


While in Cape Town, students will stay at The Backpack and Africa Travel Centre, situated in the heart of the city. While at Spitzkloof, where the majority of the field school will take place, we will be camping.   Students are required to bring their own tent, sleeping bag, air mattress etc.   Toilet and shower facilities are very basic but functional. Our toilets are frequently renewed, open-air (but secluded) long-drops. We wash using solar showers, which everyone is required to bring. There is enough water for everyone to wash at the end of every workday.

MEALS:  We bring all food and water for drinking/washing into the field. This is a rugged, isolated desert environment with absolutely no supermarkets or stores in the immediate area; the closest supermarket is a 1.5 hour drive away over rough terrain. We thus cook our own meals in the field. We take turns cooking and doing the washing up, allowing budding chefs an opportunity to wow us all.  We have also built our own rock-and-sand pizza oven at the site (it works!) that we use on Sunday evenings.  We eat very well with typical meals consisting of risotto, pasta, curry, pizza and even calzones.  As we do not have a fridge so most meals are vegetarian with the exception of tinned tuna and dried meat (jerky, known locally as biltong). We do, however, have the occasional barbeque (meat and/or fish) on days we return from town with fresh produce and water (approximately once per week). Those who enjoy milk in their coffee/tea will also be happy to know we do have long life milk in camp.  We can accommodate vegetarians, people with lactose intolerance, or who require Halal or Kosher food.