African Archaeology

African Archaeology: From Caves to Capitals

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Course Description

The archaeology of Africa is a rich and complex subject. It dissolves the myth of a ‘dark continent’ devoid of history, and reveals instead the diversity of the African experience. By exploring this largely unwritten past, we discover Africa’s significant contribution to our shared human heritage, and come to better understand the challenges the continent faces in the 21st century.

From human origins to the development of agriculture and the rise of complex societies, this course offers a broad introduction to the archaeology of the African continent. We explore key research themes and engage with interdisciplinary methodologies that include physical and cultural anthropology, written and oral histories, environmental studies and ethnography.

We will examine important archaeological research from the Sahara to South Africa, and learn how the continent has long played a dynamic cultural and economic role on the global stage.

Course Content

In this course we explore the following topics:

  • Introducing Africa: An Archaeological Perspective
  • Early Hominins and the Emergence of Modern Humans
  • The Archaeology and Achievements of Hunter-Gatherers
  • The Development of Farming
  • Craft Production and Processes of Urbanisation
  • Forest Kingdoms: Complex Societies of West Africa
  • Coastal Cities: Complex Societies of East Africa
  • Town of the Great Lakes: Complex Societies of Central Africa
  • Gold and Soapstone: Complex Societies of Southern Africa
  • Archaeology of the Early Colonial Period

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the course, participants should be able to:

  • Discuss some of the most important archaeological sites of the sub-continent and key events in African prehistory;
  • Examine how different peoples and cultures of Africa are represented in the archaeological record;
  • Evaluate Africa’s cultural and economic position within global systems throughout time;
  • Debate some of the key theoretical and methodological issues in African archaeology.

Your Tutor

Dr. Mark Anderson holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in archaeology, and completed a doctorate in African archaeology at the University of Cape Town. He specialises in the anthropology of ritual and religion, the formation of complex societies, and the archaeology and cultures of Africa.

Mark is a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and a Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists.

Mark Anderson

Course Details

Course Duration:The course is self-paced, but most learners complete within seven to twelve weeks.
Learner Support:Learners are fully supported by the tutor throughout the course.
Assessment:Assessment methods include quizzes, tutor and peer discussions, and short written tasks.
Award:Akkadium Certificate of Completion.