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11 July 2024

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St Hugh’s Fellow, Professor Peter Mitchell, honoured with special conference session

The Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA) met at the National University of Lesotho in the last week of June, the first time that it had ever met in Lesotho. Professor Peter Mitchell, St Hugh’s Tutor and Fellow in Archaeology, conducted extensive fieldwork there in the 1980s and 1990s and has retained a strong interest ever since, including acting as consultant on the World Bank-funded Metolong Dam Cultural Heritage Management Project between 2008 and 2012.

To recognise this, the conference began with Professor Mitchell delivering a keynote address and ended with a special session in his honour organised by former St Hugh’s doctoral students Professor Brian Stewart, Dr Sam Challis, Dr Charlie Arthur, and Dr Patrick Roberts (Max Planck Institute, Jena), along with Professor Genevieve Dewar (University of Toronto). The session kicked off with a paper by another St Hugh’s graduate, Dr Tim Forssman, and addressed a key question that Professor Mitchell raised almost 20 years ago in the South African Archaeological Bulletin: Why does southern African hunter-gatherer archaeology matter?

In response to this theme, contributors delivered papers on many of the topics that have marked Professor Mitchell’s research over the past 40 years, including the archaeology of Lesotho itself, hunter-gatherer adaptations to dryland environments, stone tool technologies, the analysis of ostrich eggshell beads, and the relationships between environmental and social change. Contrary to a suggestion raised at the session’s start, he has no intention of ‘winding down’ and looks forward to continuing to contribute to southern African archaeology for many years to come!

Photograph: Professor Mitchell with current and former students at the 2024 ASAPA conference, National University of Lesotho, Roma, Lesotho. From left to right: Svenja Arlt (DPhil. student, Wolfson College); Dr Jerome Reynolds (University of the Witwatersrand); Dr Tim Forssman (University of Mpumalanga); Dr Sam Challis (University of the Witwatersrand); Dr Charlie Arthur (Environmental Resources Management Ltd); Dr Rachel King (University College London); Professor Brian Stewart (University of Michigan).



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