The Akkadium spark was ignited many years ago on an archaeological site in Africa, where our founder, Dr. Mark Anderson, was conducting field research. He had an experience there that would profoundly influence his life mission and work.
As a doctoral student in Archaeology at the University of Cape Town, Mark was investigating the site of Marothodi in South Africa, a huge pre-colonial stone walled settlement that had been occupied by a Tswana-speaking chiefdom in the early 19th century.  The site was situated in an area of stunning natural beauty near the Pilanesberg National Park, an evocative cultural and ecological landscape where the roar of lions could be heard echoing around the hills at night.
Marothodi was a fascinating cultural site, but at that time it remained largely unexplored by archaeologists. Mark quickly realised that fieldwork in such an incredible location could be developed to create exciting, powerful and transformative learning experiences for others. To harness this potential he set up an archaeological field school at the site in 2003, and opened enrolment to all.
Over the following seasons, dozens of university students, professionals and lifelong learners from around the world traveled to the Marothodi International Archaeological Field School to participate in Mark’s discovery-focused training programme. In addition to offering experiential learning in archaeology, the school created rich opportunities for archaeologists to engage with local communities, to share cultural perspectives, and to learn from the valuable experience and wisdom of local people.
Inspired by the power of this cross-cultural learning initiative, Mark later established the Marothodi Institute for Archaeology in Africa (MIAA), “a non-profit scientific, educational and humanitarian organisation dedicated to promoting archaeological research on the African continent” (p. 41). One of the educational goals of the MIAA was to harness the essence of the Marothodi experience, to make it sustainable and transferable to other discovery-focused learning initiatives.
The MIAA was endorsed by the World Archaeological Congress (WAC). Its mission was formally commended by the then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and by Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu. For Mark, these acknowledgements were a powerful affirmation of the importance of his goals, and they inspired him to stay committed to his vision of transformative education.
After his PhD, Mark spent the following decade on a mission to explore the wider dynamics of post-compulsory education. He undertook advanced training in educational development and technology-enhanced learning. He investigated the world of adult education, and taught lifelong learners in a variety of community contexts. His journey also led him into the higher education sector, where he gained insights from both teaching-focused and research-intensive universities.
Mark’s primary purpose on this journey has been to discover the key ingredients for transformative learning. To harness educational design and technology-enhanced pedagogies with the aim of creating powerful and accessible learning opportunities. He is driven by a desire to reach anyone who wants to learn, particularly those who find themselves – for whatever reason – outside the scope of mainstream provision.
Mark founded Akkadium College to further this mission.
- Anderson, M. S. (2013) Marothodi: The Historical Archaeology of an African Capital. Milton Keynes: Atikkam Publishing.
- Randall, S. (2005/6) Digging in South Africa. Current Archaeology Handbook 2005/2006. London: Current Publishing.
- Anderson, M. S. (2006) The Marothodi Institute for Archaeology in Africa: Sharing the Past, Touching the Future. The Archaeologist 61: 19.
- In 2017 the MIAA became part of Akkadium College, and will operate as a specialist centre within the School of Anthropology and Archaeology.