HARPees

Meet some of the HARP team members.

In the eastern trench at Little Muck Shelter.

Dr Tim Forssman is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Mpumalanga in Cultural and Heritage Studies. He has worked at the University of Pretoria, where he also spent two years as a postdoctoral reader before a year at the University of the Witwatersrand, and for PGS Heritage on a dam mitigation project in Lesotho. Tim is a current recipient of the National Research Foundation’s African Origins Platform Grant, which will fund his research into forager technologies, innovations, and indigenous knowledge systems during the rise of the Mapungubwe state. This study falls under the Hunter-gatherer Archaeological Research Project, which aims to develop a more inclusive history of foragers in the middle Limpopo Valley. His research interests include forager-farmer interactions, forager economies, trade dynamics, landscape archaeology, and rock art. Tim is also an editorial board member at Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa and has recently completed a book titled Foragers in the middle Limpopo Valley: trade, place-making, and complexity. Follow: @harp.roject and @tim4sman.

Chanté reaches into one of the trenches at Little Muck Shelter.

Chanté Barnard is a Masters student at the University of Pretoria and the Laboratory Technician for HARP. Archaeology has always been a passion of hers; a passion that might have originated from one too many Indiana Jones films. Her Honours Project with HARP explored the degree to which Little Muck’s foragers were active participants within the middle Limpopo Valley’s socio-political and economic landscape, in terms of local markets. Thereby, aiming to share her appreciation for southern African archaeology and the complex relations evident across the landscape. Chanté is excited to continue with, and expand, on her current research, exploring shifts that occurred at both Little Muck and Leokwe Hill; an Iron Age site which may include forager spaces and Stone Age remains. The aim is to gain a better understanding of social, economic, and spatial relations between foragers and farmers, and to contribute to our understanding of the role foragers played, as well as how they shifted their technological and settlement preferences at the terminal stages of the local Stone Age sequence. Follow: @chante_barnard_99.

Ang prepares slides for analysis.

Angelinah Masolo studied her undergraduate and Master’s studies at the University of Witwatersrand (WITS). She majored in archaeology and psychology (odd combination, I know). Until registration, she did not know what archaeology was but soon came to love it. Her project seeks to understand cultural changes that took place from the mid-Holocene period and explore its effects on Stone Age landscape patterns, such as settlement habits, resource exploitation patterns, and social dynamics. All these will be examined through the use of Geographical Information System modelling, radiocarbon dating, cultural material, use-wear and faunal analysis. Ang’s research probes the final stages of the Stone Age phases in the middle Limpopo Valley, a socially important landscape, by exploring the sequence and changes of peopling and practices that took place in the valley. What makes this project cool and awesome for Ang is that it teaches her about the lives of past communities. It also shows us where we come from as a people, and she gets to see the amazing stuff people left behind at the site. Ang also enjoys hikes, being in nature and doing archaeology fieldwork. Follow: @angelinah____.

Siphesihle shows us the remains of a bangle he excavated.

Siphesihle Kuhlase is an archaeology student at the University of Pretoria. He recently completed his Honours degree in archaeology with distinction and published some of his findings in The Digging Stick, an archaeological periodical published by the South African Archaeology Society. He is also the current holder of the Dr Hanisch Book Prize at the undergraduate level, issued by the university’s Anthropology and Archaeology Department for outstanding academic achievement among archaeology students. At present, he is studying for his Masters degree and his research focuses on the interaction between foragers and farmers in the middle Limpopo Valley using the Mbere Complex, a multi-component site with forager and farmer areas, to examine the spatial overlap between these groups. His work is being sponsored by the Palaeontological Scientific Trust (PAST). During the day you can find Siphesihle at Digby Wells Environmental where he is working with the heritage resources management and social sciences division. The work they do includes heritage resources management, grave relocations, archaeological mitigation and cultural heritage overview projects for various clients in the mining and energy resources industry. Siphesihle was one of the first members of HARP, joining in 2020, and has participated in every field trip. Follow: @skkuhlase340.

Justiin working from home during lockdown.

Justin Pentz is an MA archaeology student at the University of Pretoria. He is currently doing a lithic analysis of the stone tool assemblage from Little Muck Shelter. For his honours, he analysed the assemblage from Skirbeek Shelter, another Later Stone Age site but about 120km downstream. Justin is a current recipient of funding from the Palaeontological Scientific Trust (PAST), which is funding his MA research. He was part of an Iron Age excavation in 2018 and a two-week fieldwork trip to Little Muck in 2021. Apart from his terrible dad jokes and dry puns, Justin works part-time as an assistant teacher and is passionate about learning and teaching others. He also enjoys learning new skills and putting them to use. Justin has also completed an introductory course in Japanese and plans to teach English in Japan in the future. His other goals include studying abroad, working, and studying towards becoming qualified in the field of bioarchaeology or physical anthropology. When he is not analysing lithic materials, he can be found gardening with his several peppadews, chilli plants and herbs or playing video games. Follow: @firnenfire.

Courtney busy checking the depth of her excavation with Alice and Siphesihle.

Courtney Knell is currently in her Honours year at Tuks. She is an avid hiker, thrifter, and plant enthusiast. She has always been passionate about history and our past, so she naturally found her way into the archaeology department at UP. Courtney’s Honours project this year will focus on a small sample of arrowheads found at Little Muck and Balerno Main Shelters in the Mapungubwe National Park.  Stone arrowheads are a rare find across southern Africa and are generally concentrated in the interior of the country.  Therefore, the finds in Limpopo are really exciting, as they can change our current perception of trade networks and exchange patterns in the Later Stone Age of southern Africa! Courtney is looking forward to the intensive research aspect of this degree, but just as stoked to get back into the field again this year with HARP! Follow: @courtneyknell.