Covid-19 and the lockdowns that countries are dealing with worldwide have meant a reinvention of how people stay connected. Faced with this challenge, three archaeologists, Matt Lotter, Tim Forssman and Matt Caruana, have come together to produce a podcast titled “Bones and Stones”.

According to Lotter, “We started it as a way to stay connected with undergraduate students, but also to stimulate discussion with postgraduate students and fellow colleagues in the palaeosciences and heritage related fields.” What has resulted from this however, is an engaging series of interviews and discussions that is a fantastic introduction to the fields of archaeology and the palaeosciences.

Dr Dipuo Kgotleng, director of the University of Johannesburg Palaeo-Research Institute, describes the podcast as “a great and innovative solution to palaeo and archaeology engagement in a rapidly changing world”, adding, “The podcast offers interesting and educational content for the public at large.”

The series is pitched at a level that the general public will enjoy and engage with. Many episodes cover the basics, for example what archaeology is, what an archaeologist does and doesn’t do, and what makes up a daily routine. It also offers an an ideal introduction to the subject and possible career opportunities for school learners.

With a different guest each week, Bones and Stones will engage, inform and entertain, going a long way to keeping the archaeology and heritage conversation going during these uncertain times.

Maropeng’s very own curator Keneiloe Molopanye is a guest on the podcast today (you can watch it below). She describes it as “four archaeologists, four locations, together in one virtual room. Great start to the morning catching up with familiar faces. A few chuckles here and there and being offered the opportunity to share my journey to becoming a curator”.

Who are the presenters?

Lotter, Forssman and Caruana are passionate up-and-coming researchers dedicated to researching and highlighting South Africa’s significant palaeo and archaeological record.

Caruana is no stranger to the Cradle of Humankind. He is a lecturer at the Palaeo-Research Institute at the University of Johannesburg, with a special interest in Early Stone Age archaeology of South Africa. It is amazing to think that those crude early stone tools from two million years ago – an immense cognitive leap at the time – resulted in technology such as Zoom that people globally are now using to keep in touch.

Lotter oversees the excavation and stone tool analysis at Swartkrans cave, opposite the Sterkfontein Caves. He is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Palaeo-Research Institute at the University of Johannesburg. His research interest is also in stone-tool technology and how the landscapes we know today have changed over millions of years. While his research has been focussed on the Sundays River Valley in the Eastern Cape, he has also been involved with excavations at Maropeng.

Forssman is a senior lecturer at the University of Pretoria. Compared to that of the other two presenters, his work is relatively modern! He has worked extensively in Limpopo, investigating how different communities interacted with each other around 2 000 years ago.