Archaeological investigations in South Africa’s rugged and remote Namaqualand desert are aimed at reconstructing the flexible survival behaviors so characteristic of our species. Ancient desert adaptations will be explored through excavations at one of three spectacular rockshelters – Spitzkloof B – and surveys in the surrounding arid landscape. Although the region boasts an extremely rich archaeological record stretching back well over 60,000 years, it remains virtually unexplored. Camping in a red-sand valley and working alongside experts in southern African prehistory, students will reconstruct ancient desert lifestyles and in the process gain experience with a range of archaeological materials, techniques and methods.
Dr. Brian Stewart (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Faculty of Arts and Sciences College Fellow in the Department of Anthropology, Harvard University. He was previously Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge. He conducts research in Lesotho and South Africa aimed at understanding the development of modern human adaptive flexibility. He specializes in spatial archaeology and ancient technologies.
Dr. Genevieve Dewar (email@example.com) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto Scarborough. She works in Lesotho, South Africa and the Great Lakes region of North America focusing on evidence for early human adaptations to marginal environments. She specializes in bioarchaeological approaches to the study of human and animal bone.
Tuition & Program Fee:
$4,400 Total Field School Costs: $4,900
All fees are payable to the Institute for Field Research. Eight semester credit units are provided through Connecticut College. Program fee includes registration, accommodations, program activities, meals on workdays, and health insurance.
Airfare, weekend meals, and optional excursions are additional.
Please inquire about Financial Aid at your home institution. For details about the financial aid application process, please visit the Financial Aid section of this web site.
How much to budget depends on your travel, entertainment and souvenir choices. It is always best to overestimate your spending. We recommend that you budget accordingly to cover optional sightseeing, laundry, internet cafes, emergencies, etc.
Expenses NOT Covered:
-Airfare to/from the pre-designated meeting place for the field school.
-Food on weekends when away from the site.
-Sightseeing outside formal field school excursions as outlined on the syllabus.
For the first five days we will stay at Cape Town Backpackers hostel in Cape Town in order prepare for the field excursion. This is when the formal lectures will be offered including tours of the local museums, the Cape Castle and the flagship Iziko South African Museum. We will then move to the field site where we will be camping. You will be required to bring your own tent, sleeping bag, air mattress etc. You will receive an information package before we leave detailing the equipment you will be responsible for. 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 ever workday.
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.
Please let us know when you apply for this program if you have special dietary needs, as well as any medical or physical conditions. We will advise you accordingly. The project is used to catering for vegetarians, those with gluten intolerance etc.
You are responsible for making your own travel arrangements. Please arrive in Cape Town, South Africa, by Sunday the 30th of June 2012 so that you are present at the 8 am meeting on July 1st.
Flying to Cape Town: There are many flight options to get to Cape Town. From North America South African Airways flies directly from JFK In New York City and from Dulles Airport in Washington DC. Alternatively, many major airlines (such as KLM, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, Air Canada etc.) will fly through a European city. Discounted tickets can be sought through Emirates Airways but there will be a stop over in Dubai.
If you are an American or Canadian citizen you do not require a VISA. Citizens of other countries should check with the South African consulate in order to determine whether you require a VISA. When you land in Cape Town you will be given a three-month travellers VISA. Please ensure that you have PROOF OF RETURN TICKET with you when you land in Cape Town (a document showing your flight itinerary). Also ensure that you have AT LEAST TWO COMPLETELY BLANK (UNSTAMPED) PAGES in your passport and that it has 6 months of validity remaining.
If you have not already done so please look into a TWINRIX series of vaccinations to protect yourself from Hepatitis A and B. Students may also consider vaccinations for tetanus. We will NOT be in a Malaria zone.
For specific information regarding travel health issues pertinent to Africa, please read the Centers for Disease Control Website. Click here to be directed to the CDC website.
“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)