Professor Innocent Pikirayi

Humanities 2014 Researcher of the Year, Social Sciences Cluster

Department of Anthropology and Archaeology


Innocent Pikirayi is Professor in Archaeology and Head of the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology. His main research interests are the rise, development and demise of state societies in southern Africa, dating to the second millennium AD, particularly Great Zimbabwe, as well as other state systems between the Zambezi and the Limpopo Rivers.

Professor Pikirayi’s current research involves the use of geo-archaeological and historical archaeological approaches to evaluate the role of water in the development and demise of complex social systems. His most recent accomplishment involved conducting a field survey around Great Zimbabwe, documenting its water resources to determine how the inhabitants of this ancient city managed and used water. The survey revealed that Great Zimbabwe is located within a cluster of interconnected springs from where water was channelled through solid granite into man-made reservoirs, some of which were dammed to ensure a prolonged water supply. Communities living around Great Zimbabwe today have tapped these water resources to conduct intensive and highly productive farming.

Professor Pikirayi also integrates his research with community and public engagement approaches with the objective of transforming and decolonising archaeological practice in southern Africa.


Professor Pikirayi's Researcher of the Year Award

was sponsored by Travel with Flair.




- Author C. Garnas

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