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Department of Archaeology


Image: Ancient pastoralist settlement viewed from the air, Amboseli, Kenya. Photo: P. Lane.

Mapping Africa's – Endangered Archaeological Sites and Monuments ( project aims to identify and document endangered archaeological heritage sites across Africa using a combination of remote sensing, records-based research, and selective archaeological surveys. It will make records of these sites available in an Open Access Arches geospatial relational database tailored for different interest groups and stakeholders. Past, present and potential future threats to these sites will be identified and assessed, and approaches to enhancing long-term site protection measures and new management policies will be developed with the project’s Africa-based partners and collaborators. The project aims to ensure long-term sustainability of the mapping and monitoring components through targeted training of in-country collaborators and other heritage stakeholders.

The project will focus initially on mapping the archaeological heritage of eight countries in Africa: Mali, Senegal, the Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Botswana. These have been selected to provide a cross-section of different site types and conditions, the diversity of threats to archaeological sites, in-country needs and capacity, and data availability. Teams based at the Universities of Cambridge, York, University College London, Uppsala University, Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar, University of the Witwatersrand, and the British Institute in Eastern Africa, Nairobi will collaborate with relevant national heritage bodies to collate, digitise and synthesise existing national archaeological site inventory records and published data on archaeological and cultural heritage sites. Using remote sensing, historical maps and automated site detection methods MAEASaM will document previously unidentified archaeological and cultural heritage sites with particular emphasis on those under threat from urban growth, conflict, sea-level change, and infrastructural development. The different teams will also undertake field assessments of a sample of threatened sites to assess the reliability and accuracy of remote sensing methods for site detection, and provide in-country training for site detection, recording, database entry and database sustainability.

All data will be published online utilising the Arches platform. The collated and analysed data will be used to develop country-specific recommendations for future research priorities and management and mitigation strategies, in consultation with relevant national, regional and international heritage management agencies. The database will also be used to promote wider public understanding of Africa’s rich and diverse archaeological heritage.


Team Members

Cambridge Team Members:

  • MAEASaM Project Manager and Remote Sensing Data Co-ordinator – Dr Stefania Merlo
  • MAEASaM Database Developer – Manoj Lokare
  • MAEASaM Research Assistant - 

External Collaborators (as at 1st October 2023)

  • Professor Amanda Esterhuysen, Origins Centre, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • Dr Jane Humphris, British Institute in Eastern Africa, Nairobi, Kenya
  • Professor Kevin MacDonald, Institute of Archaeology, University College London
  • Professor Ibrahima Thiaw, IFAN, University Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal
  • Dr Stephanie Wynne-Jones, Department of Archaeology, University of York

Arcadia - Arcadia is a charitable foundation that works to protect nature, preserve cultural heritage and promote open access to knowledge.

Project Lead

Project Tags

Science, Technology and Innovation
Environment, Landscapes and Settlement
Periods of interest: 
Classical - Roman
Copper/Bronze Age
Iron Age
Other Historical
Other Late Prehistory
Other Prehistory
Geographical areas: 
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Built Environment
Computational and Quantitative Archaeology
Field Methods
Heritage Management
Cultural Heritage
Archaeological Science
Heritage Studies
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