Dr Riaan Rifkin

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

 

Contact Details:

Telephone:   +27 (0)832648273

Email: [email protected]

 

I am an anthropologist and prehistoric archaeologist fascinated by the origins of human disease vectors and pathogens. My research at the CMEG involves a pioneering palaeopathological project anticipated to transform current understandings of the influence of vector-borne disease pathogens on the cultural and biological evolution of Homo sapiens in southern Africa. My primary objective is to reconstruct the original human disease condition - the ‘Pleistocene disease baseline’ - preceding the exodus of our species from Africa after 60 000 years ago. I aim to achieve this by means of an innovative arthropod extraction procedure and the application of cutting-edge ancient DNA techniques to anthropogenic sediments derived from several southern African Pleistocene archaeological contexts.

I have published several articles in peer reviewed journals, including PLOS ONE, the Journal of Archaeological Science, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, Antiquity and the South African Journal of Science. My research has featured on the covers of reputable international peer-reviewed academic journals (including the South African Journal of Science and the Journal of African Archaeology) and has been highlighted in popular science magazines (the National Geographic and Discovery magazines). I joined the Centre for Microbial Ecology and Genomics in February 2016.

 

Web links

ORCID ID: orcid.org/0000-0003-1791-3706

Researchgate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Riaan_Rifkin

 

Scientific publications

  • Rifkin, R.F., Prinsloo, L.C., Dayet, L., Haaland, M.M., Lozano, E., Henshilwood, C.S., Vogelsang, R., Kambombo, F. 2016. Characterising pigments on 30 000 year-old mobiliary art form Apollo 11 Cave, Karas Region, southern Namibia. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports 5: 336-347.
  • Rifkin, R.F., Dayet, L., Queffelec, A., d’Errico, F., Summers, B., Lategan, M. 2015. Evaluating the photoprotective effects of red ochre on human skin by in vivo SPF assessment: Implications for human evolution, adaptation and dispersal. PLOS ONE doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0136090.
  • Rifkin, R.F. 2015. Pleistocene figurative art mobilier from Apollo 11, southern Namibia. Expression: International Journal of Art, Archaeology and Conceptual Anthropology 9: 97-101.
  • Rifkin, R.F. 2015. Abstract: Elemental and technological analyses of 30 000 year-old mobiliary art form Apollo II Cave, Namibia. In: Collado Girlado, H, García Arranz, J.J. (eds.) Proceedings of the 19th International IFRAO Conference, Cáceres, Spain. ARKEOS: Mérida.
  • Rifkin, R.F., Haaland, M.M., Henshilwood, C.S. 2015 Late Pleistocene art mobilier from Apollo II Cave, Karas Region, southern Namibia. South African Archaeological Bulletin 70 (201): 113-123.
  • Rifkin, R.F. 2015. Ethnographic and experimental perspectives on the efficacy of red ochre as a mosquito repellent. South African Archaeological Bulletin 70 (201): 64-75.
  • Rifkin, R.F., d’Errico, F., Summers, B., Dayet, L. 2015. Assessing the photoprotective effects of red ochre on human skin by in vitro laboratory experiments. South African Journal of Science http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2015/20140202.
  • Rifkin, R.F. 2015. Ethnographic insight into the prehistoric significance of red ochre. South African Archaeological Society Digging Stick 32 (2): 7-10.
  • Henshilwood, C.S., van Niekerk, K.L., Wurz, S., Delagnes, A., Armitage, S.L., Rifkin, R.F., Douze, K., Keene, P., Haaland, M.M., Reynard, J., Discamps, E., Mienies, S.S. 2014. Klipdrift Shelter, southern Cape, South Africa: Preliminary Report on the Howiesons Poort layers. Journal of Archaeological Science doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2014. 01.033.
  • d’Errico, F., Garcia Moreno, R., Rifkin, R.F. 2012. Technological, elemental and colorimetric analysis of an engraved ochre fragment from the Middle Stone Age levels of Klasies River Cave 1, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science 39: 942-952.
  • Rifkin, R.F. 2012. Processing ochre in the Middle Stone Age: Testing the inference of prehistoric behaviours from actualistically derived experimental data. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 31: 174-195.
  • Rifkin, R.F. 2011. Assessing the efficacy of red ochre as a prehistoric hide-tanning ingredient. Journal of African Archaeology 9 (2): 131-158.
  • Rifkin, R.F. 2009. Engraved art and acoustic resonance: Exploring ritual and sound in the Korannaberg region of North-Western South Africa. Antiquity 83: 585-601.

 

Documentary film

Rifkin, R.F., d’Errico, F. 2014. La couleur des Ovahimba. Université de Bordeaux and Centre de ressources et d'information sur les multimédias pour l'enseignement supérieur (Canal-U / CERIMES) (https://www.canal-u.tv/video/cerimes/the_color_of_the_ovahimba.15970).

 

Conference contributions

  • Rifkin, R.F. 2015. More than merely pigment: Analytical and experimental perspectives on the evolutionary significance of prehistoric pigment exploitation. Institut Français d'Afrique du Sud (IFAS) Symposium. University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, 12 to 16 October 2015.
  • Rifkin, R.F., Prinsloo, L.C., Dayet, L., Haaland, M.M., Henshilwood, C.S., Vogelsang, R. 2015. Elemental and technological analyses of 30 000 year-old mobiliary art form Apollo II Cave, Namibia. 19th International IFRAO Conference, Caceres, Extremadura, Spain, 31 August to 4 September 2015.
  • Rifkin, R.F. 2015. Experimental and ethnographic insight into the efficacy of red ochre as a mosquito repellent. Biennial Conference of the Association for Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA), Harare, Zimbabwe, 10 to 15 July 2015.
  • Haaland, M.M., Rifkin, R.F., Henshilwood, C.S. 2015. Late Pleistocene figurative art mobilier from Apollo II Cave, southern Namibia. 1st AFQUA Conference, University of Cape Town, South Africa, 30 January to 4 February 2015.
  • Rifkin, R.F. 2015. Ethnographic and experimental perspectives on the efficacy of red ochre as an insect repellent. 9th Experimental Archaeology Conference, University College, Dublin, Ireland, 15 to 18 January 2015.
  • Rifkin, R.F., Henshilwood, C.S. 2014. Preliminary report on the ochre assemblage from the Howiesons Poort layers of Klipdrift Shelter, southern Cape, South Africa. 14th Congress of the Pan African Archaeological Association, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, 14 to 18 July 2014.
  • Mphuthi, D., Cukrowska, E., Rifkin, R.F. 2014. Assessing the bioavailability of toxic trace elements in ochre using synthetic leachates. 7th Analitika conference, Parys, South Africa, 7 to 11 September 2014.
  • Rifkin, R.F., Henshilwood, C.S., d'Errico, F., van Niekerk, K.L., Summers, B. 2012. Red ochre: The earliest cosmetic known to man? 27th International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists Congress, Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa, 15 to 18 October 2012.  
  • Summers, B., Lategan, M., Rifkin, R.F., d’Errico, F., Garcia- Moreno, R. 2012. Sun protection from ochre used traditionally by southern African indigenous populations. 27th International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists Congress, Johannesburg, South Africa, 15 to 18 October 2012. 
  • Henshilwood, C.S., van Niekerk, K.L., Rifkin, R.F., d’Errico, F. 2012. Analytical techniques: Deciphering a 100,000 Year Old Ochre Processing Workshop at Blombos Cave, South Africa. 10th Scientific Methods in Archaeology Conference, Aalborg University, Esbjerg, Denmark, 27 to 29 September 2012.
  • d'Errico, F., Henshilwood, C.S., Garcia Moreno, R., Rifkin, R.F., Van Niekerk, K., Rosso, D. 2011. The emergence of symbolic material cultures in Africa and Europe. Preliminary results of an ongoing ERC funded interdisciplinary research project. Rencontres d'art rupestre, Centre National de Préhistoire, Périgueux, France, 3 to 4 May 2011.
  • Rifkin, R.F., d'Errico, F., Veldman, A. 2011. The symbolic and functional exploitation of ochre during the South African Middle Stone Age. 1st TRACSYMBOLS conference, Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies, France, 15 to 17 September 2011.
  • d'Errico, F. Rifkin, R.F., Veldman, A. Garcia Moreno, R. 2011. Enquête ethnoarchéologique chez les Himba. Journée Scientifique de l'Unité mixte de Recherche PACEA, Université Bordeaux 1, Talence, France, 6 October 2011.
  • d’Errico, F., Henshilwood, C.S., Vanhaeren, M., Backwell, L., Garcia Moreno, R., Rifkin, R.F. 2010. The origin of symbolic material culture: Models, methods, data and research perspectives. Pleistocene Art of the World IFRAO Congress, Tarascon-sur-Ariege and Foix, France, 6 to 11 September 2010.
  • d’Errico, F., Garcia Moreno, R., Henshilwood, C.S., Vanhaeren, M., Rifkin, R.F., Queffelec, A., Rosso, D. 2010. Matières colorantes préhistoriques: Nouvelles avancées méthodologiques et interpretative. Journées scientifiques organisées dans le cadre du GdR 3174, ChimARC à proximité du site de Régismont-le-Haut, France, 4 September 2010.
  • d’Errico, F., Garcia Moreno, R., Henshilwood, C.S., Vanhaeren, M., Rifkin, R.F., Queffelec, A., Rosso, D. 2010. L'utilisation des matières colorantes dans le contexte du débat sur l'origine de la modernité culturelle. Journée Pigments, Martine Regert, Regismont-le-Haut, France, 2 to 3 September 2010.
  • Rifkin, R.F. 2008. Language and social identity in central South Africa. Free Linguistics Conference, Sydney, Australia, 11 to 12 October 2008.

 

PhD thesis

Rifkin, R.F. 2012. The symbolic and functional exploitation of ochre during the South African Middle Stone Age. Johannesburg: Institute for Human Evolution, University of the Witwatersrand (http://wiredspace.wits.ac.za/handle/10539/11832).

 

Published by Karl Pelser

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