African Archaeology: From Caves to Capitals


The archaeology of Africa is a rich and complex subject – a field of study with the power to dissolve the myth of a ‘dark continent’ devoid of history, and reveal instead the incredible diversity of the African experience.

By exploring this largely unwritten past you will discover the amazing achievements of African peoples, recognise Africa’s significant contribution to our shared human heritage, and develop a deeper understanding of some of the challenges faced by the continent 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.

You will explore key research themes and engage with interdisciplinary methodologies that include physical and cultural anthropology, written and oral histories, environmental studies and ethnography.

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


San rock painting of antelopes, South Africa

Course Details

Next start date:

Monday 1st October, 2018.

Course duration:

Five weeks of guided tuition.

Level of study:

Level 3 Certificate.

Student time commitment:

Recommended 2 to 5 hours per week (flexible).

Learner support:

Learners are fully supported by the tutor throughout the course.


Dr. Mark Anderson PhD MCIfA FRAI FRGS FSA.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Discuss some of the most important archaeological sites of the African sub-continent and key events in African prehistory;
  • Examine how different peoples and cultures of Africa are represented in the archaeological record;
  • Debate some of the key theoretical and methodological issues in African archaeology.

Syllabus overview

In this course we explore the following topics:

Module 1: Introducing Africa: an archaeological perspective
Module 2: Human evolution and the emergence of culture
Module 3: The archaeology and life-ways of hunter-gatherers
Module 4: The development of herding and farming
Module 5: Craft production, urbanisation and the rise of political complexity

Tutor profile

Dr. Mark Anderson is Head of the Akkadium School of Anthropology and Archaeology. He is a Teaching Fellow at Imperial College London, and a tutor in archaeology and anthropology at the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education.

Mark is a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, a Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. He is the author of Marothodi: The Historical Archaeology of an African Capital.

Mark Anderson
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Additional information

Academic prerequisites

This learning opportunity is open to anyone, and no prior knowledge or experience of archaeology or African studies is required. The only prerequisite is a curiosity about the rich cultural heritage of Africa, and a willingness to engage and contribute to course discussions.


Upon successful completion of this course, participants will receive an Akkadium College Level 3 Certificate in African Archaeology, and an academic transcript with details of completed modules and learner achievements.

Technical requirements

The course content and discussions are shared completely online in a virtual learning environment (VLE), so you will need access to an internet-connected computer or mobile device, and some basic computing skills. Our team will be on hand to give you both academic and technical support as needed.

Other information

Please note that places on Certificate courses are limited to harness the educational value of small-group learning. However, most courses run multiple times throughout the year. If your preferred course is fully booked, please ask us about the next available opening.