The Department of Archaeology exploits its location in a region rich in archaelogical heritage, with evidence of human occupation for the last half million years. Specific research interests include issues related to human evolution; the emergence of modern humans; and the history of hunter-gatherer, pastoralist, and farming communities in southern Africa, as well as the archaeology of more recent colonial settlement.
In addition, the department is home to archaeometric and materials research, focusing on paleoanthropology, past environments, early human diets, and materials analysis. More recently, the department has developed expertise in cultural resource management, working with both the government and private sectors to mitigate the effects of urban development and widen public awareness of the cultural and historical importance of the past.
In order to understand and interpret this heritage, the faculty and students in the department interact widely with a number of other departments (anthropology, environmental and geographical science, history, geological sciences, human biology, and zoology) and institutions (such as the Iziko Museums of Cape Town).