ArchSoc Symposium
Northern Branch
Sat, 24/08/2024 - 09:00 to 13:00
Delta Environment Centre, Delta Park, Road No. 3, Victory Park, Johannesburg
Registration: 9h00 to 9h30
Venue: Delta Environmental Centre, Delta Park, Road No. 3, Victory Park, Johannesburg.
Parking: Secure parking at the Centre.
Catering: Bring your own picnic lunch and drinks to enjoy with the other participants at the tables outside the Environmental Centre. Tea, coffee and fruit juice will be served mid-morning.
Book Table: A wide selection of new and second-hand books will be available for purchasing before the symposium starts and during the morning tea break and at the end of the symposium. 

The Northern Branch’s Annual Symposium brings academics, society members, and their friends together once a year for a series of fascinating lectures. 
We are fortunate that archaeology in South Africa offers us not only insight into the Stone and Iron Ages, but also into one of the world’s richest rock art traditions.
Join us at the ArchSoc Symposium to hear at first-hand the fascinating accounts from Professor Marlize Lombard, Dr Gavin Whitelaw and Dr Justine Wintjes.
Wear warm clothing as the Delta Hall can get chilly in August.
PROGRAM: Saturday, 24 August 2024
Talk 1 – Middle Stone Age bow hunting and the shaping of the sapient mind by Professor Marlize Lombard
Southern African populations started to hunt with bows and arrows during the Middle Stone Age, sometime between about 80 000 and 60 000 years ago. Whilst we cannot excavate the minds of early bowhunters, we can use what we know about bowhunting and the human brain to explore how the use of such a bimanual toolset may have shaped our minds. 
We will also explore the relationship between attention development in modern archers and attention as a cognitive requirement for ancient bow-hunting. Variation in human neuro-genetic adaptations since our split from Denisovan and Neanderthal groups suggests differences in attention as a cognitive trait between recent big-brained humans. Cognitive-motor neuroscience highlights brain regions that are activated or ‘pressured’ during aiming with attention. Especially the precuneus, a brain region associated with bimanual activity, visuospatial integration, and attention, comes to the fore as associated with archery or bowhunting. Its development, in tandem with the unique globularisation of the human skull, can be traced through the fossil record from about 160 000 years ago, reaching the modern range by around 100 000 years ago. Bimanual activities such as bowhunting may have been one of the aspects that stimulated such development. 

Talk 2 – Excavating the Early Iron Age KwaGandaganda site in the uMngeni Valley by Dr Gavin Whitelaw
A big idea, first floated in 1982, proposed that the lifeways of most Iron Age farmers in southern Africa were structured by the Central Cattle Pattern, a worldview that was expressed most usefully for archaeologists in a particular settlement form. The principal exceptions were farmers who maintained the Zimbabwe Culture. The idea inspired challenge, as all big ideas do. Much of the challenge concerned farmers of the first millennium, for which limited settlement evidence was available. One big site, KwaGandaganda in the uMngeni valley, supplied test data for the big idea in the late 1980s. The implications still resonate in interpretation today.

Talk 3 – A biography of Game Pass Shelter by Dr Justine Wintjes, in collaboration with Dr Jeremy Hollmann and Dr Ghilraen Laue 
Game Pass shelter in the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg is one of the largest and best-preserved rock art sites in South Africa. It is also the site of the ‘Rosetta Stone’ panel, which has played a key role in rock art interpretation. We – Jeremy Hollmann, Ghilraen Laue and Justine Wintjes – are working on an edited volume in which we contextualize the ‘iconic’ panel by telling a more holistic story of the site. We have invited contributions from researchers in history, archaeology, history of art, anthropology, heritage and conservation studies. In addition to the site’s spectacular artistic display, its life story involves iconographic links to other sites, sensorial experiences, personal memories, customary practices and reclaimed identities, social, economic and political realities, and influences that extend to the far reaches of the earth.

Please download the full program and flyer here