Institute of Archaeology

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First for Archaeology in UK 2014

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Institute students experience African research environments

26 February 2013

Group shot taken on crossing the equator for the fourth and last time on the trip to Uganda

Institute students have recently returned from their biennial study expedition to Uganda, led by Andrew Reid.

The fifth running of the Studies in African Field Archaeology course, took place in Uganda from 7-19 February.  This intensive course is intended to provide an introduction to African research environments and the construction of the archaeological record in an African country.  It therefore focuses on both cultural and environmental factors which may have relevance in understanding archaeological issues. 

The core activity of the trip is visits to a series of archaeological sites, each of which is introduced by a student who has been tasked with a particular reading, reporting research at the site. 

In addition students are introduced to examples of savanna, forest and lake environments to help them understand the environmental setting in which human habitation took place. 

The newly appointed site manager, Remigius Kigongo, talks about the reconstruction process at the Kasubi tombs, Uganda's only cultural world heritage site, destroyed by fire in 2010.

Highlights of the trip included a guided tour round the Kasubi tombs site, destroyed in 2010, by the newly appointed site manager, Remigius Kigongo, who talked about the reconstruction process and the progress that has been made. 

This engagement with local heritage practitioners is a vital ingredient of the course and Andrew and the students were accompanied for the entire trip by Uganda's Sites and Monuments' Officer, Dismas Ongwen. A mutual benefit was experienced with UCL students obtaining an insight into heritage challenges and Dismas being enabled to visit sites he might not otherwise have seen and being able to test ideas on an enthusiastic audience.

The participants also wish to thank the herd of elephants that positioned themselves conveniently close to the main road through the Queen Elizabeth National Park as the group passed!

Institute of Archaeology courses cover a very diverse range of archaeological topics in both a theoretical and a practical manner, enabling students to build a degree tailored to their individual interests, while challenging their expectations and helping develop a wide range of transferable skills. Any enquiries about the Institute's undergraduate degree programmes and courses may be directed to Charlotte Frearson (Undergraduate Programmes Administrator).


View more images of the trip:

  • A site introduction being undertaken at Nsongezi,  a small rock shelter with Late Stone Age and Early Iron Age deposits, that for many decades was Uganda's best known prehistoric site.  Behind is the Kagera river and beyond that Tanzania.
  • A student site introduction at an Early Stone Age exposure in a sand quarry at Nsongezi.
  • Students try their hands at identifying large African faunal remains at Lake Mburo National Park.
  • Our study day towards the end of the trip was disturbed in the afternoon by a very heavy hailstorm.
  • The newly appointed site manager, Remigius Kigongo, talks about the reconstruction process at the Kasubi tombs, Uganda's only cultural world heritage site, destroyed by fire in 2010.
  • Group shot taken on crossing the equator for the fourth and last time on the trip.