20th anniversary of the French South African cooperation in archeology
The week of archeology was organized by the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Franco-South African cooperation in archeology. The event shed light on the deep ties that link the two countries, which this partnership managed to strengthen over the past two decades.
Held from the 12th to the 16th of October 2015, the symposiums were hosted, in addition to the French Institute, by several partners of the event such as the University of Pretoria, the Rock Art Research Institute (RARI), the Origins Center and the Evolutionary Studies Institute (ESI), all belonging to the University of Witwatersrand.
After an official opening at the University of Pretoria attended by a hundred people, the week began with a symposium depicting the wide panel of Franco-South African collaborations regarding excavations. In the evening, the Ambassador of France to South Africa Elisabeth Barbier hosted a cocktail at the French residence.
Read the Ambassador speech here :
After that, each day has been devoted to a special field of the cooperation.
Tuesday 13 October, IFAS and the Evolutionary Studies Institute organised a round table on the history of Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology in South Africa. In regards of the transition to democracy in 1994 which triggered huge transformations in Palaeosciences and questioned its institutionalization which goes back to the the first half of the 20th century, IFAS and ESI found relevant to provide an historical approach to the Palaeosciences.
Wednesday 14 October, the symposium organised by the Rock Art and Research Institute tackled the subject of rock art. On the basis of Henri Breuil, Clarence van Riet Lowe, David Lewis-Wiliams and Jean Cloes’ respective works throughout the 20th century, the aim of the discussion was to shed light on the debate towards the sharing of common features in rock art representations from South Africa, northern Africa and Europe.
Lithic studies have a long tradition in South Africa, starting from the 1900’s. But the last two decades represented a pivotal change characterized by the large exposure to the international community. On those founding principles, the symposium of Thursday 15 October aimed to review current lithic studies on the South African Stone Age, in terms of analytical frameworks and of research questions. This symposium also targeted to be a platform from which to present the range of current projects in South Africa but it was also an opportunity to confront our “eyes” to lithic collections that were showed during the day.
The last journey of the week of archeology inaugurated the opening of the ANR Globafrica project carried by the scientific direction of IFAS-Research. The discussions and interventions of the participants aimed to identify the theoretical and methodological tools allowing to enlighten the nature of the connections between the east African coast and the continental hinterland from the 11th to the 17th century.
Among this great overview of the different archeological fields, we can’t forget to stress the intervention of professor David Lewis-Williams. For those who would like to dive themselves into the thick of this exceptional week, the lecture of professor Lewis-Williams, entitled « From Leroi-Gourhan to Clottes : experiences of a Franco-South African narrative », has been recorded and is available on the following address : http://ifas.hypotheses.org/1890