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I don't break the soil periodically to 'reaffirm my status'. I do it because archaeology is still the most fun you can have with your pants on.

— Kent V. Flannery


Academic Profile: Dr Alexander Antonites

Name: Dr Alexander Antonites

Designation: Lecturer


  • Doctor of Philosophy - Anthropology
  • Master of Arts - Archaeology
  • Bachelor of Historical and Cultural Science Honours - Archaeology
  • Bachelor of Arts - Humanities

Telephone Number: (012) 420-2497

Email: [email protected]

Short Biography: I received my BA degree (Anthropology and Archaeology) in 2001 and my MA degree in Archaeology in 2005 – both from the University of Pretoria. After completion of my MA, I first worked as a contract archaeologists before joining UNISA as a junior lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology. In 2007 I started my PhD at Yale University in the USA. The degree was awarded with distinction in 2012.

Research Areas: I work on the archaeology of Farming Communities in southern Africa.
My earlier research concentrated on the social context of production. More specifically, I focused on discerning patterns of household and specialists activities and how these relate to economic organization of early farmers in southern Africa.
Although production and consumption patterns remain a topic of interest, I have changed focus to political organization and hinterland-heartland interaction during the Mapungubwe period (c. AD 1200). This period is of special interest to Southern African political history since it was the first discernible instance of a class-based social system in the region. The University of Pretoria has a long research history on Mapungubwe, and my research continues to build on this. While earlier work had focused on the Mapungubwe political centre, I concentrate on the smaller communities in its hinterland. My research offers a reappraisal of the accepted view of hinterland society as inert and un-influential in regional dynamics. Continued research on this topic shows contrasting patterns in which hierarchy formation in the heartland co-occurred with the horizontal expansion of social relations through networking strategies in the hinterland.

Current Research: Together with my colleague at UP, Ceri Ashley, I am expanding on this research in the central LimpopoRiver Valley, seeing the river as a conduit of interaction that tied diverse social and environmental mosaics together.

Recent Publications:

  • Antonites, A. 2014. ‘Glass beads from Mutamba: patterns of consumption in thirteenth-century southern Africa’, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa. 49(3): 1-17
  • Antonites, A. & Antonites, A. R. 2014. ‘The archaeobotany of farming communities in South Africa: a review’ In Fuller, D. Q and Murray, M. A. (eds.), African Flora, Past Cultures and Archaeobotany. San Francisco: Left Coast Press. Pp. 225-232
  • Antonites, A. 2013 ‘Archaeological salt production at the Baleni spring, north-eastern South Africa’, South African Archaeological Bulletin. 68: 105–118
  • Antonites, A. 2006.  ‘Iron Age salt production at Baleni’. The Digging Stick. 23(3): 13-15.