Department of Anthropology and Archaeology

Anthropology and Archaeology are disciplines that are interested in studying people and all aspects of their lives. Anthropology studies living societies and Archaeology studies those in the past.

If you want to know how humans evolved and how people lived in the past: what they ate, what they wore and what their environment was like, you ask an archaeologist. Archaeologists use the material remains of the past: tools, architectural remains, plant and animal remains, pollen, shells and other evidence that they dig up in excavations to try and understand the people who lived in the past. Objects of study include all material culture from the stone tools discarded 3 million years ago in East Africa to the cooldrink tin that you threw away yesterday.

Anthropologists, in contrast, study the culture of living people. If you want to know why people cross the road at a pedestrian-crossing, why they believe in witchcraft, or why some groups sanction marriage between cousins and others not, you ask an anthropologist. They study how people adapt to their environment (or adapt their environment to them), how they organise their societies, and the shared systems of meaning and belief that they develop. Anthropologists gather this information by observing and talking to people.

While there are many shared interests between Anthropology and Archaeology, they are offered as separate majors in the department. Thus, you can major in either one or both disciplines.

Our department offers a thorough grounding in both disciplines, with a focus on Africa. Our Anthropology curriculum includes modules on anthropological theory, cross-cultural analysis, health care and ritual. In Archaeology you will be exposed to all facets of the human past including the study of human evolution, world prehistory and rock art. Archaeological methodology and Cultural Resource Management are also a focus.  We offer Anthropology and Archaeology at both undergraduate and postgraduate (Honours, Master’s and Doctoral) level. Students curious about people in the past and human cultural variation in the present will find studying through our department a rewarding experience and will learn to look at their world in a whole new way.

Contact us

Anna-Mari Pretorius
012 429 6067

Ayanda Thamana
012) 429 6053

Last modified: 2023/08/07