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Zeekoe Valley GIS Study, South Africa

Tim Hart pointing to stone kraal
Tim Hart pointing to stone kraal.

 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. Additional 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 rock art. The original ZVAP survey is a unique data set with 18,420 prehistoric components that document the use of the valley by hominins over the last 700,000 years. The present project, funded by the National Science Foundation and under the direction of Britt Bousman and Garth Sampson, converted the ZVAP survey data into shapefile (GIS) format and provide accurate digital site locations for the region. The current project has three objectives:

1) conversion allowed us to conduct a more detailed analysis of Stone Age settlement patterns in a three-dimensional setting (Sampson et al. 2015);

2) we plan to mount the entire database with the South African Heritage Resources Agency’s South African Heritage Resources Information System (SAHRIS) database, so that other qualified researchers can easily access the information and conduct their own analyses;

3) the placement of the electronic record with SAHRIS will serve to permanently curate the data and thus protect the deteriorating paper documentation of this very important archaeological record.