Amanda Esterhuysen, PhD

Professor of Archaeology in School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies
Director of the Origins Centre, University of the Witwatersrand


Amanda Esterhuysen is an Associate Professor of Archaeology in the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental studies. Her principal research focus is the recent historical past, and contemporary issues affecting the practice of archaeology. Over the last 10 years her main research focus has been on building a comprehensive understanding of the siege of 1854 based on the analysis of the physical remains excavated from Historic Cave in the Makapans Valley World Heritage Site, and of the documented and oral recollections of the event. To this end she produced a body of knowledge that has challenged historical perspectives and broadened archaeological insights. Her work is part of a ground swell of South African studies that have moved beyond ascribing identity to sites and objects, towards using archaeology to better understand the broader political and historical relationships at play. To this end she was integral in motivating for and enabling greater collaboration between archaeologists, historians, anthropologists and oral historians, particularly those working within southern Africa, and with an interest in the last 500 years. She co-edited the first conference proceedings of this initiative. Other research outputs have focused on South Africa’s changing socio-economic priorities and how this is impacting on the practice of archaeology, and affecting communities’ relationships with their sacred sites, and cultural landscapes.


Archaeology, Historic Cave, Makapans Valley World Heritage Site, Socio-economics

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