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Zeekoe Valley GIS Study, South Africa

From 1979 to 1982, a team from Southern Methodist University (SMU), under the direction of Garth Sampson, conducted the Zeekoe Valley Archaeological Project (ZVAP) survey, the largest survey in Africa. Britt Bousman (an original member of ZVAP) and Garth Sampson are converting ZVAP survey data to electronic media. Continuous work in the semi-desert valley since the survey has focused on supplementing the survey record by defining ceramic and lithic chronologies for the Later Stone Age, the Middle Stone Age, and Acheulian industries; developing a better understanding of their technological strategies; studying past environmental changes; and documenting the spectacular rock art. The original ZVAP survey is a unique data set with more than 19,000 prehistoric and historic components that document the use of Zeekoe Valley by hominids over the last 250,000 years. The present project, funded by the National Science Foundation and under the direction of Britt Bousman and Garth Sampson, will convert the ZVAP survey data in ARcView (GIS) format and provide site locations and topographic maps for the region. The current project has three objectives:

  1. conversion will allow us to conduct a more detailed analysis of Stone Age and historic settlement patterns in a three-dimensional setting;
  2. we intend to publish the entire database on CD-ROM and an abridged version, through the University of Uppsalas Atlas of African Archaeology website under the direction of Dr. Paul Sinclair, so that other researchers and students can easily access the information and conduct their own analyses;
  3. the conversion to electronic media will serve to permanently protect the deteriorating paper documentation of the very important archaeological record.
 Pictured above: Tim Hart pointing to stone kraal.