Join archaeologists and other specialists investigating the deep roots of human behaviour in Africa

When did humans first start to use complex stone tools - tools made of more than one part - and why does it matter? Well, we are on a journey to find out and we hope you will check in and follow our progress. We will be reporting directly from the field - and the lab - as our four year project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of Great Britain, unfolds

What’s in a name?  Not a lot in the case of ‘Messenger Compound’, certainly no whiff of roses and star-crossed lovers.  The place existed early in the colonial history of Livingstone, Zambia and it came to my awareness in 2017 during the first season of the Deep Roots project.   We were excavating on a […]

Yes, it’s been a long time.  Too long.  Followers of the Deep Roots project may have been wondering why there hasn’t been a blog post for yonks (that’s a technical term, of course).  Has the project come to end?  No.  Has the team run out of things to say?  No. There’s been plenty of activity […]

As we wait for the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines and the return to something like normal life, planning is underway for getting back to Zambia. The final season of fieldwork on the Deep Roots project has been penciled in for August, assuming, of course, that international travel resumes.  More on those plans later as they […]

The nine-year-old me appeared briefly last week.  My face painted, sitting on the ground, breaking rocks and trying to make fire. Not some ghostly apparition, but a remembered feeling that bubbled up unexpectedly when teaching a class of 35 school children.  Their excitement, joy and curiosity reached deep inside, freeing that boy who dreamed of […]

I return to a dark tent.  There’s no power and I’m on my own now after an intense month at Kalambo Falls. Bliss. Minutes ago, we said a collective goodbye at the airport in Lusaka. The team homeward bound, looking ahead to what’s next.  I remain to wrap up; to catch my breath.  It’s been […]

Phewww…. The sound of expelled air at the end of a long day.  Not a puncture, just exhaustion.  Brain and body frazzled.  Frustrated with bureaucratic indecision and cumulative physical toil as the season nears its end. Monday was a non-day.  A day both necessary and non-productive.  We travelled in convoy to the town of Kasama, […]

Tension grows as we enter the final two weeks of the project.  One key aim of the season remains frustratingly out of reach: artefacts.  Early Stone Age artefacts.  We haven’t found them.  They taunt us daily, lying on the sands above the river. Staring back at us blindly. They’re everywhere except in our trenches. A […]

We’ve now worked a full week at Kalambo Falls, that’s six days in the last ten.  A slow start by choice, and by necessity. By choice because we made time to pay a call to the chief whose authority includes the falls.  From experience, getting the blessing of a chief improves relations with the local […]

Day two at Kalambo Falls… …and we are sharing the beauty of this landscape with a Zambian Army survival training class.  Jack and Boyd, the instructors, have our full attention as they take us through the biology and behaviour of venomous snakes. “Don’t run, just stand still,” when encountering a black mamba; adders give a […]