Bushman Rock Shelter

Four year fieldschool funded by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 

Presentation

The Bushman Rock Shelter (BRS) site is located in the district of Ohrigstad, Limpopo, South Africa, in the North of the Drakensberg range. Excavated in the 70’s by the team of Hannes Eloff from University of Pretoria, BRS revealed archaeological strata dating from Middle and Later Stone Age. The mineral and organic remains, perfectly preserved over 7 meters deep, are key indicators for tracking the changes in the hunter-gatherers populations spanning the last 200,000 years. This is precisely during this period that the first societies of anatomically modern humans appeared and transformed on African continent.

The scientific project, led by Guillaume Porraz (CNRS and IFAS Recherche) in close collaboration with Dr. Aurore Val (post-doc at the Evolutionary Studies Institute), is part of a long-term strategy of collaborative research and joint publications. The discovery of new finery pearls, currently under study by Dr. Laure Dayet (post-doc at IFAS), will be the landmark publication of the BRS project.

 

Objectives

To gain a better understanding of these population changes mechanisms, the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the French Institute in South Africa (IFAS) engaged in a new project to reinvestigate the site of BRS, with the aim of clarifying the stratigraphy and getting new archaeological samples. The project is funded by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAEDI) and supported by the University of Witwatersrand and the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA).

 

Method

In April 2015, during 4 weeks, more than 30 international experts and students gathered in the BRS site to proceed to the first excavation. This first campaign was the first step towards the implementation of a school project, with the participation of 10 students from the University of Witwatersrand, managed by Professors Christine Sievers and Dominic Stradford.