Institute of Archaeology


Thembi Russell - Honorary Senior Research Associate

Thembi Russell

Thembi Russell is a Senior Researcher in the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. Her research interests include the spread of food production in southern Africa and its associated rock art.

She is currently collaborating with Institute of Archaeology colleagues to model the large scale dispersal of sub-Saharan Africa's first farmers.

Research Interests

  • Hunter-gatherer and pastoralist rock art
  • Large scale human dispersals
  • Human animal relationships

Selected recent publications

  • Russell, T and Lander, F. 2015. 'What is consumed is wasted': from foraging to herding in the southern African Later Stone Age, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa, 50:3, 267-317, DOI: 10.1080/0067270X.2015.
  • Russell, T and Lander, F. 2015. 'The bees are our sheep': the role of honey and fat in the transition to livestock keeping during the last two thousand years in southernmost Africa, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa, 50:3, DOI:10.1080/0067270X.2015.1051793
  • Lander, F and Russell, T. 2015. Fat-tailed sheep and thin-walled pots: contextualising rock art and non-agriculturist pottery within the last 3000 years in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Southern African Humanities 27: 113-63
  • Russell, T., Silva, F. and Steele, J. 2014. Modelling the spread of farming in the Bantu-speaking regions of Africa: an archaeology-based phylogeography. PLoS ONE 9(1): e87854. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0087854
  • Russell, T. 2013. Through the skin: exploring pastoralist marks and their meanings to understand parts of East African rock art. Journal of Social Archaeology 13(1): 3-30
  • Russell, T. 2012. No one said it would be easy. Ordering San painting using the Harris Matrix: dangerously fallacious? A reply to David Pearce. South African Archaeological Bulletin 67: 267-272.
  • Russell, T & Kiura, P. 2011. A re-consideration of the rock engravings at the burial site of Namoratung'a south, Northern Kenya and their relationship to modern Turkana livestock brands. South African Archaeological Bulletin 66: 121-128.
  • Russell, T. & Steele, J. 2009. A geo-referenced radiocarbon database for Early Iron Age sites in sub-Saharan Africa: initial analysis. Southern African Humanities 21 (1): 327-344.