Posted on July 06, 2017
The Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA) Conference was officially opened by Prof Vasu Reddy, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria, on Tuesday, 4 July.
Prof Reddy warmly welcomed delegates from across Africa to the capital city of South Africa and shared insights with the gathering on the importance of the discipline of archaeology within the current context. Archaeology, believes Prof Reddy, is rooted in the past but allows for ongoing inquiry into identities, practices, beliefs and worldviews which shape societies and cultures in the present.
The conference has had keynote addresses in the fields of palaeoanthropology, Iron Age and farming communities, bioarcheology, maritime archaeology, Stone Age and rock art, heritage and economy, material culture studies, conservation in archaeology, landscape archaeology, historical archaeology and archaeologies of missions. There is also exposure to work that UP students are undertaking as well as a focus on job opportunities in archaeology.
Prof Reddy succinctly explains that 'archaeology, while showing a strong inflection towards the Humanities is also focussed on bridging the divide between the arts and the sciences. It is clear that modern archaeology naturally lends itself to bigger and deeper questions of interdisciplinarity in the commitment to the service of the social sciences and the humanities'.
'Archaeology often challenges our assumptions and some of the most profound of these concern our definitions of human nature. It is about recognising that the engine for change in the past may have stemmed directly from that diversity, it is central to the story,' said Prof Reddy, 'This conference will strengthen a process of an even better understanding of our complex pasts'.
The conference was funded by Wenner-Gren, National Institute for Humanities and Social Science (NIHSS), African World Heritage Fund, National Research Fund (NRF), PAST, French Institute in South Africa (IFAS), the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology. The conference was supported by the organising committee, especially Dr Ndukuyakhe Ndlovu, 28 student volunteers, the Dean's office, Prof Maxi Schoeman (Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Humanities) and the Head of the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, Prof Innocent Pikirayi.
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