Learning from previous work in Europe (the Discovering the Archaeologists of Europe project, where partners from 21 countries worked together to map professional archaeology in Europe), it would be possible to look at how many people work in archaeology across Africa (in all work situations – academia, private companies, governmental, NGOs), what they do, what their skills, qualifications, ages, genders and cultural backgrounds are, and how archaeology “operates” in each country.
Landward Research Ltd and the Heritage Management Organization are building up a network of partners in Africa who want to share methodologies and results to support African archaeology today and to plan for its development tomorrow, creating opportunities for employment, to contribute to knowledge and for heritage protection.
What is proposed is a capacity measurement project. Capacity measurement is a key step in capacity development, as defined by the United Nations Development Program.
Knowing about the professionals who identify, interpret, curate and manage the physical remains of the human past allows those professionals to be supported, their needs to be identified and nurtured to lead to better heritage protection in the future .
The value in doing this is not just in counting archaeologists – it is in mapping out the current situation in order to then develop professional capacity that will better protect African cultural heritage. Archaeologists need to understand what is important, why it is important and to be able to explain and use it to tell a story that people will understand and value.
It is about skills and demography – ensuring that African archaeologists have the skills to match the sector’s needs, and that, in working environment where the politics of the recent past still cast a long shadow, the demography of the archaeologists’ matches that of the citizens.