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Department of Archaeology



I am an anthropologically and historically oriented archaeologist, who specialises in the later Holocene archaeology of sub-Saharan Africa. I have lived in and undertaken archaeological and/or ethnoarchaeological research in Mali, Kenya, Tanzania and Botswana and I have also undertaken field research in South Sudan. I anticipate launching new projects soon in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Senegal, Nigeria and Zambia. My interests include landscape historical ecology, the archaeology of colonial encounters, the use and role of analogy in archaeological interpretation, the materialisation of memory, maritime archaeology, and the transition to food production in Africa. I am a former Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa and former President of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists, and before joining the department I was Professor of Global Archaeology at Uppsala University, where I still supervise PhD and MA students and host one of my research projects.


I am currently engaged in field projects focussing on i) how societies, landscapes, ecosystems and Protected Areas in the Serengeti Basin have responded to climate change and societal use over the past 300 years, to better understand how they may respond in the future – see ARCC project webpages; ii) collaborative research between archaeologists and pastoralist community organisations on the long-term history of indigenous water management and well digging in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia – see Well Being project details; and iii) the co-production of community heritage networks in Tanzania – see CONCH project for details. I  co-direct a Sida-funded training programme between the Department of Archaeology & Ancient History, Uppsala University and the Department of Archaeology & Anthropology, Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique on the theme of Biocultural heritage in Mozambique: Developing new heritage industries. I am also a co-Investigator on one of the AHRC’s Global Challenges Research Fund projects – Rising from the Depths, which aims to identify ways in which maritime cultural heritage can directly benefit coastal communities in eastern Africa – see the RFtD website for details.


I am presently involved in the following research and training projects in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Mozambique:


July 2017 – December 2020: ARCC – Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change in NW Tanzania (Funding Agencies: Swedish research Council, Sida, Formas; PI)

October 2017 – September 2019: CONCH: Co-production Networks for Community Heritage in Tanzania (Funding Agency: AHRC Research Networking for International Development scheme; PI Dr Stephanie Wynne-Jones, University of York)

September 2017 – August 2021: Rising from the Depths: Utilising marine cultural heritage in East Africa to help develop sustainable social, economic and cultural benefits (Funding Agency: AHRC GCRF Area-Focused Network Plus, PI: Dr Jon Henderson, Nottingham University)

September 2018 – December 2020: Well Being: Indigenous wells, pastoralist biocultural heritage and community archaeology for sustainable development in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia (Funding Agency: British Academy Sustainable Development Programme 2018, PI Dr Freda Nkirote, British Institute in Eastern Africa)

April 2018 – March 2022: Biocultural Heritage in Mozambique: developing new heritage industries (Funding Agency: Swedish International Development Agency – Sida, co-PI with Dr Hilario Madiquida, UEM and Dr Anneli Ekblom, Uppsala University)

Teaching and Supervisions


I coordinate the following course:

Paper A35/ARC33/G34 The Archaeology of Africa


I am involved in the teaching of the following courses:

Paper A1 World Archaeology

Paper A10 Archaeological Theory and Practice

Paper G02 Core Archaeology

Paper G06 Medieval Europe in a Global Context

Paper MPhil in World History – Debates in World History

Research supervision: 

I am happy supervise students at all levels on a range of topics related to the archaeology and historical ecology of sub-Saharan Africa, and I have both archaeological and ethnographic datasets relating to several of of my previous projects from across the African continent that could form the basis of a BA/BSc or MPhil dissertation project. I am especially interested in supervising students who wish to study for an MPhil or a PhD in the following topics:


The historical ecology of ancient African towns

The archaeology of ivory on the African continent

The Pastoral Neolithic and Pastoral Iron Age of eastern Africa

The archaeology of enslavement and slave trading in African settings

Issues in African cultural heritage, including among the Diaspora

Other Professional Activities

Editorial Board, World Archaeology

Member of Council, British Institute in Eastern Africa

Fellow Society of Antiquaries of London

Routledge Series Editor, African Archaeology & Heritage

Member, Scientific Steering Committee, IHOPE 

Job Titles

Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer Professor of the Deep History & Archaeology of Africa

General Info

Takes PhD students
Available for consultancy
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Cultural Heritage


Person keywords: 
Archaeology of sub-Saharan Africa
Landscape Historical Ecology
Transitions to food production in eastern and southern Africa
Archaeology of pastoralism in eastern Africa
Archaeology, colonialism and postcolonialism
Heritage, identity and memorialisation
Organisation of space and time among human societies in the past and present
Maritime archaeology and historical ecology
Geographical areas: