Topic ID #30400 - posted 12/17/2013 3:38 PM

South Africa- Spitzkloof B Field School





Dates: July 20 - August 22, 2014

Project Description: Spitzkloof is as series of three neighboring rockshelters in the Richtersveld region of Namaqualand, a coastal desert in the northwest corner of South Africa. Although desolate, transhumant pastoralists, the descendants of those still live here, thrived in this landscape for millennia.  Our work at Spitzkloof is aimed at understanding how some of the world’s earliest fully modern human societies adapted to challenging African environments over the past 200,000 years, of the behavioral flexibility that so epitomizes our species – flexibility that enabled us to colonize the globe and in the process out-compete our less versatile archaic cousins, including the Neanderthals, Denisovans, and so-called ‘Hobbits’.  The three Spitzkloof Rockshelters – designated A, B and C – form the ‘backbone’ of our research in Namaqualand. The goal of the 2014 field season is to continue excavating at Spitzkloof B and to conduct archaeological and geomorphological surveys in the surrounding area.


Academic Credits: Attending students will be awarded 8 semester credit units (equivalent to 12 quarter units) through Connecticut College.

Total Cost: $4,650; includes tuition, cost of credit units, and room & board.

Accommodations: While in Cape Town, students will stay at The Backpack and Africa Travel Centre, situated in the heart of the city. While at Spitzkloof, where the majority of the field school will take place, we will be camping.   Students are required to bring their own tent, sleeping bag, air mattress etc.   Toilet and shower facilities are very basic but functional. Our toilets are frequently renewed, open-air (but secluded) long-drops. We wash using solar showers, which everyone is required to bring. There is enough water for everyone to wash at the end of every workday.

Meals: We bring all food and water for drinking/washing into the field. This is a rugged, isolated desert environment with absolutely no supermarkets or stores in the immediate area; the closest supermarket is a 1.5 hour drive away over rough terrain. We thus cook our own meals in the field. We take turns cooking and doing the washing up, allowing budding chefs an opportunity to wow us all.  We have also built our own rock-and-sand pizza oven at the site (it works!) that we use on Sunday evenings.  We eat very well with typical meals consisting of risotto, pasta, curry, pizza and even calzones.  As we do not have a fridge so most meals are vegetarian with the exception of tinned tuna and dried meat (jerky, known locally as biltong). We do, however, have the occasional barbeque (meat and/or fish) on days we return from town with fresh produce and water (approximately once per week). Those who enjoy milk in their coffee/tea will also be happy to know we do have long life milk in camp.  We can accommodate vegetarians, people with lactose intolerance, or who require Halal or Kosher food.

Travel Information: All students will be met at the Cape Town International Airport (CPT).  Please arrive by July 20. If you missed your connection or your flight is delayed, please call, text or email to the project director.  Local cell phone numbers and other emergency contact information will be provided to all enrolled students.


Visa Requirements: A valid passport for at least six months is required to enter and depart South Africa. Visitors do not require visas for stays of up to 90 days.  Travelers are also urged to carry proof of their return ticket (e.g. a print out of their fight itinerary) when entering South Africa. Border officials at the airports frequently request to see such document.  South African law requires travelers to have one (1) totally blank (unstamped) visa page in their passport in order to enter the country. In practice, however, travelers often need to have more than one blank page. There have been numerous instances in which South African immigration officers required travelers to have two (2) fully blank pages. Some travelers have been refused entry and returned to their point of origin. All travelers are strongly advised to have at least two fully blank passport visa pages upon arrival in South Africa.  Travelers without the requisite blank visa pages in their passports may be refused entry into South Africa, fined, and returned to their point of origin at their own expense. For more information, please visit the US State Department Travel Advice page.

Health: For specific information regarding travel health issues pertinent to travel in South Africa, consult with the Centers for Disease Control website.

Project Directors and Contact Information: Dr. Brian Stewart, University of Michigan (; Dr. Genevieve Dewar, University of Toronto Scarborough (


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