Emeritus Professor John Parkington, archaeologist, University of Cape Town

Archaeologists measure time, space and form. Form involves the description, analysis and measurement of material traces that have survived from the past. Time allows us to put objects, sites, behaviours and other traces into chronological sequence, without which any attempt at narrative, and beyond that historical interpretation, would be impossible. Our measurement of time is rather coarse and has implications for the kinds of explanations we might prefer. Space is easier than time as it may seem obvious where something is even if it is difficult to know how long ago it was used or abandoned. But, more importantly, we want to turn space into place and to understand the attraction and likely purpose of a particular location: What is it that makes a space a place? This illustrated course looks at solutions local archaeologists have come up with to deal with these issues.



  1. Time and place in archaeology
  2. A violent event in the history of the hunter-gatherer occupation of the Cape
  3. Are there rock paintings of events?
  4. A crayfish event a few thousand years ago
  5. Contemporaneity – is it possible to recognise it in the archaeological record?


Recommended reading

Parkington, J. 2002. Cederberg Rock Paintings. Cape Town. Krakadouw Trust.

Parkington, J and N Dlamini 2016. First People: ancestors of the San. Cape Town. Krakadouw Trust.

Parkington, J 2006. Shorelines, Strandlopers and Shell Middens. Cape Town. Krakadouw Trust.



Date: 20–24 January
Time: 1.00 pm
COURSE FEES: Full R590 Staff & Students R295
Venue: Classroom 2A Kramer Law Building UCT