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Department of Archaeology



I am an archaeologist specialising in the study of the African past and Africa within the context of global history. My research examines a variety of themes, from political economy and trade to questions of power, craft, exchange, gender, labour, identity and personhood. I have an interdisciplinary research strategy, drawing on a range of techniques from anthropological, historical and archaeological practice, underpinned by a strong theoretical focus on human engagement with the material world.

Much of my academic training took place at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, where I obtained a BA in history and archaeology, BA honours in archaeology followed by a PhD in archaeology in 2017. After my PhD I held a Claude Leon postdoctoral fellowship (2018-2019) before moving to the United Kingdom to take up a British Academy Newton International fellowship at the Sainsbury Research Unit, University of East Anglia (2020-2023).


My research spans a variety of interrelated themes, from identity, power and craft production to the nature and impact of global connections across the African continent. I am currently the PI of the European Research Council awarded, UKRI funded, Starting Grant, titled ‘Entangled materialities and new global histories from southern Africa’ (ENTANGLED). ENTANGLED is an interdisciplinary project combining scientific analyses of a range of archaeological materials with historical and ethnographic research to address connections between southern Africa and the Indian Ocean World during the Global Middle Ages (500-1500 CE). By examining the development of maritime economies in southern Mozambique, the nature and directionality of trade routes that linked interior and coastal communities, and the value of trade items across diverse paths of exchange and consumption, ENTANGLED will assess the agency of southern African communities in shaping global connections and contribute towards repositioning southern Africa in global history.

Key Publications

Key publications: 

Refereed Journal Articles
•    Haour, A., and Moffett, A.J. 2023. Global connections and connected communities in the African past: stories from a cowrie shell. African Archaeological Review 40: 545–553.
•    Moffett, A., & Walz, J. 2023. Real but unrealised: Object transformations and political economy in East and southern Africa, AD 750–1250. Antiquity 97(394): 975-990 .
•    Moffett, A.J. 2023. Decoupling identities: Moving beyond gendered binaries in the southern African past. Southern African Humanities 36: 149–62.
•    Moffett, A.J., Nyamushosho, R., Bandama, F. and Chrikure, C. 2022. Stringing together cowrie shells in the African archaeological record with special reference to southern Africa. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 29: 862–901.
•    Moffett, A. J., Hall, S., and Chirikure, S. 2020. Crafting power: New perspectives on the political economy of southern Africa, AD 900–1300. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 59: 101180.
•    Moffett, A, J. 2020. The Archaeology of Metal Production in Southern Africa. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History (online).
•    Moffett, A. J., and Hall, S. 2020. Divining Value: Cowries, the Ancestral Realm and the Global in Southern Africa. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 30(2): 313-326.
•    Chirikure, S., Mukwende, T., Moffett, A.J., Nyamushosho, R.T., Bandama, F. and House, M. 2018. No big brother here: heterarchy, Shona political succession and the relationship between great Zimbabwe and Khami, southern Africa. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 28(1): 45-66.
•    Bandama, F., Moffett, A.J., and Chirikure, S., 2017. Typological and technological attributes of metallurgical crucibles from Great Zimbabwe (1000–1700CE)'s legacy collections. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 12: 646-657.
•    Moffett, A.J., Maggs, T. and van Schalkwyk, J. 2017. Breaking ground: hoes in precolonial South Africa - typology, medium of exchange and symbolic value. African Archaeological Review 34(1): 1-20.
•    Moffett, A.J. and Chirikure, S. 2016. Exotica in Context: Reconfiguring Prestige, Power and Wealth in the Southern African Iron Age. Journal of World Prehistory 29(4): 337-382.
•     Bandama, F., Moffett, A.J., Thondhlana, T.P. and Chirikure, S. 2016. The production, distribution and consumption of metals and alloys at Great Zimbabwe. Archaeometry 58(1): 164-181.
•    Chirikure, S., Bandama, F., House, M., Moffett, A., Mukwende, T. and Pollard, M. 2016. Decisive evidence for multidirectional evolution of sociopolitical complexity in southern Africa. African Archaeological Review 33(1): 75-95.
•     Mathoho, E.N., Bandama, F., Moffett, A.J. and Chirikure, S. 2016. A technological and anthropological study of iron production in Venda, Limpopo Province, South Africa. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 51(2): 234-256.

Book chapters
•    Moffett, A.J., 2024. Africa, South: Indian Ocean and Atlantic Connections. In: Rehren, T., Nikita, E. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Archaeology, 2nd Edition, vol. 3, pp. 169–176, London: Academic Press.
•    Haour, A. , & Moffett, A., 2019. The Cowrie in East Africa. In Arc Humanities Press (ed.). The Encyclopedia of the Global Middle Ages. London: Bloomsbury Publishing
•    Chirikure, S. & Moffett, A.J. 2018. Fluid Spaces and fluid Objects: Nocturnal Material Culture in sub-Saharan Africa with special reference to southern Africa. In N. Gonlin & A. Nowell (eds). Archaeology of the Night. Life After Dark in the Ancient World. Colorado: University Press of Colorado.

Non-academic Publications
•    Moffett, A. Iron Age Mining Links Ancient SA to the World. The Mail and Guardian, 22 August 2014 [online]. Available at:

Other Professional Activities

•    Academic Mentor, Rewriting World Archaeology: Dialogues on the Archaeology of the Global South (British Academy Writing Workshop organised by Durham University)
•    Member of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA).
•    Member of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAFA).
•    Member of World Archaeological Congress (WAC).

Job Titles

Senior Research Associate, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

General Info

Not available for consultancy
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Material Culture
Artefact Analysis & Technology
Archaeological Theory

Contact Details

McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
Downing Street


Person keywords: 
Material culture
Archaeological theory
African archaeology
Historical archaeology
Indian Ocean
Material Culture
Rethinking Complexity
Geographical areas: 
Periods of interest: 
Other Historical