You are here

2018 March - African Conference on Experimental Archaeology (ACE), Johannesburg, South Africa

Tuesday, 20 March, 2018 to Thursday, 22 March, 2018

Organised by: University of the Witwatersrand & EXARC

Please see the Registration Form.

Please see the Abstracts.

Please see the Call for Contributions.

The Archaeology division at the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand invites you to participate in the African Conference on Experimental Archaeology (ACE), in Johannesburg, South Africa. The conference will be held at the Wits Club, University of the Witwatersrand. ACE encourages the exchange and sharing of new work in scientific experiments and closely related activities focussing on African and Africanist research. The conference will consist of two days of presentations and posters and one day of workshops and demonstrations.

This first African Conference on Experimental Archaeology is organised by a local organising committee at the University of the Witwatersrand and the international organisation of Open-Air Museums and Experimental Archaeology (EXARC). The aims of the conference are to showcase experiments and closely related activities in African contexts and to provide a networking opportunity for researchers to take African archaeology to new places within and outside Africa.

Honorary Professor Lyn Wadley, Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand will give a key note address to the conference. Professor Wadley has conducted, published and supervised many experiments in order to replicate activities observed in the African Middle Stone Age. Her experimental work includes heat treatment of rocks, ochre and seeds, and hafting of stone tools with compound adhesives made from natural products like ochre and plant gum.
See more HERE

See Images below for examples of experiments done in Africa.

International guests include:

Associate professor Bill Schindler, Washington College, Chairman of the International Organisation of Archaeological Open-Air Museums (AOAM) and Experimental Archaeology (EXARC) and Vice-Chair of the Reconstructive and Experimental Archaeology Conference in the USA.
Professor Javier Baena Preysler, Universidad Autónoma of Madrid, Secretary of EXARC, Vice-chair of the Spanish Association of Experimental Archaeology and Editor of the Spanish Bulletin of Experimental Archaeology.

Other guests and key note speakers will be announced here later.

Registration for the conference opens on the 15th of August

Conference fees, including lunch every day, are as follows:

Registration from the 16th of October: ZAR 1500 for students and EXARC members 
 ZAR 2000 for others 

1 ZAR = 0.06945 EUR; 1 ZAR = 0.077600 USD

Prices for conference dinner and excursions to be confirmed and will be posted here later.

Twitter: @ACEJoburg

African Conference on Experimental Archaeology (ACE), Johannesburg, South Africa

Please see the Call for Contributions.


Draft 24 July 2017

Thursday 22 March: workshops and demonstrations

‘Oh Ochre?’ Workshop

​Ochre is found at almost all Middle and Later Stone Age sites and is still widely used around the world today. The regular collection and use of bright red ochre varieties, at a time when the first undisputed indicators of behavioural complexity are evident, have made it a significant interpretative tool in archaeological assemblages. However, there are inconsistencies in how to categorise and define ochre pieces, use-traces and ochre powder applications; which can make inter-site comparisons and understandings problematic.

This workshop will deal with issues of the discrepancies in ochre terminology, geological categorisation and use-trace identification. We will present a range of geological ochre varieties, and issues of identification and labelling will be discussed. The pieces will then be processed in multiple of ways by the workshop participants, during which technique and use-trace variations will be noted and debated. Pooling our collective knowledge on the topic (and related themes), we aim to gain a better understanding of the diverse ways to use and interpret this material. This workshop promises to be informative and integrative. Come and get your hands dirty!

Bone tool workshop

Bone was a readily available resource in the past and bone tools were thus a key component of Stone Age technology. Much of the research on bone tool production focusses on bone points. Given the durability of bone, it seems reasonable to assume that bone flakes would also be an important tool component. This workshop will focus on experimentally reconstructing bone flakes using knapping and other bone-modifying techniques. It will seek to address some important issues with regard to bone flaking. For example, given the relative ductility of bone in comparison to stone, would fire have been used to knap bone? Equifinality between marrow extraction and tool-making would make it difficult to discern between these two outcomes but are there specific percussion techniques that could be used to differentiate between subsistence patterns and tool-making?

This will not be a ‘talk shop’; the workshop will involve practical experiments and activities conducted on the venue grounds. We will spend much of our time attempting to reconstruct bone flakes and other tools in an experimental area. Participants are expected to have knowledge of basic knapping techniques and be familiar with actualistic bone tool-making methods. Protective glasses and gloves will be supplied. We will also make available various skeletal elements from different size class animals to be used as bone tool blanks. Due to space limitations, the workshop will be restricted to 10-15 participants.

Please email if you wish to participate in this workshop. 

The Archaeology division at the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand:


Setting up experiments and checking moisture
Fire experiments 2011
Grinding ochre, Dr Rifkin
Ochre Use, Dr Hodgskiss
Ochre use traces, Dr Hodgskiss
Ochre chunks Ovahimba, Dr Rifkin
Hide scraping, Dr Rifkin
Ochre hide, Dr Rifkin
Ovahimbaotjise, Dr Rifkin
Engraving ochre
Grinding ochre
Hafted tools
Hafting with ochre, Dr Hodgskiss
Hafting with ochre, Dr Hodgskiss
Students discussing quartzite knapping at...
Preparing an experiment, Dr Bentsen
Experimental setup, Dr Bentsen
© by: EXARC since 2001. All rights reserved