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Department of Archaeology


HEAAT aims to develop a multidisciplinary, theory-focused and data-driven research framework and agenda for East African historical archaeology that will privilege the research of the internal dynamics of African communities and account for the region’s history of complex identities. By investigating a 200-year, high-resolution record of material culture and identity change among the Ilchamus community in Kenya, from c. 1800 to the present, the action will identify when and why certain objects are chosen as identity markers and how identities are negotiated, addressing questions raised by recent historical research.

Historical archaeology in Africa has been drawn into a Eurocentric discussion with a focus on colonial disruption, pushing aside studies of communities in their own right and investment into archaeological theory in the region. Moreover, existing historical archaeological frameworks are not adapted to the African social and historical contexts, its alternative information sources and the multi-layered and multi-scalar identities that characterise the landscape, thus emphasizing the need to develop new approaches.

To achieve its goal, the theory-focused action includes the investigation of old and new archaeological, archival, oral historical, GIS and other materials already collected, and training in ethnoarchaeology and multivariate statistics. Special emphasis is put on training in theoretical thought (with a focus on materiality, collective action and assemblage theories) as the most significant component of the action. The action will stimulate global discussions on identity formation in archaeology and anthropology, and it will facilitate cross-disciplinary interaction between history, anthropology and archaeology, which currently follow separate lines of research in the region. Through the advanced training, the ER will advance his career prospects in academia and establish long-lasting multidisciplinary research networks.


Horizon 2020 Framework Programme, MSCA-IF-2019

Team Members

Prof Paul Lane

Wilson Tiren

Glen Nakure

Project Lead

Project Tags

Material Culture
Rethinking Complexity
Periods of interest: 
Other Historical
Geographical areas: 
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Material Culture
Archaeological Theory
Computational and Quantitative Archaeology
Field Methods
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