South Africa has nine iconic World Heritage Sites and numerous important archaeological sites that need to be preserved to ensure that our national heritage is conserved. Archaeology involves studying ancient and the recent human past through material remains to understand culture, traditions and past civilizations.

Archaeologists collect and study artefacts such as ruins, tools, pottery and cave wall art of the past to develop a picture of how people lived in earlier cultures and societies. They examine, describe and classify artifacts according to archaeological guidelines. Some archaeologists work in protecting and managing archaeological or cultural heritage sites while others can focus on the protection of historical buildings ensuring compliance with the National Heritage Resources Act.

Archaeologists often work in teams with specialised professionals like anthropologists, curators and historians. They often travel in teams to remote areas for relatively long periods of time working through excavation sites. They can work in laboratories preserving artefacts or perform desk-based research in offices, as well.


Archaeologists require a solid background in history and sociology and must have a sound knowledge of heritage legislation and policy. They will additionally benefit from:

  • Excellent research capability
  • Highly methodical in fieldwork and laboratory competence
  • Project management
  • Good verbal, written communication and presentation skills


Plan research projects to answer questions and test hypotheses about human activity through environmental data of the past

Develop data collection methods

Document and analyse data, laboratory samples and other sources of information

Advise organisations on the cultural impact of proposed plans, policies and programs


B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Archaeology at UCT and Wits

B.A., B.A. (Hons), M.A. in Archaeology at UNISA, Univen, UP and Wits


Research institutions.

Heritage sites and museums.

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