ACU Titular Fellow gives ‘fascinating’ annual Linacre College Lecture

ACU Titular Fellow gives ‘fascinating’ annual Linacre College Lecture

Published on 08 May 2017

On Thursday 4 April, Dr Shadreck Chirikure, Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cape Town, gave the annual ACU Lecture at Linacre College.

Dr Chirikure gave a fascinating talk titled "Was the population density of Great Zimbabwe (CE 1000-1700) similar to that of modern day Hong Kong?", which challenged established wisdom on the population size of the ancient site, located in modern day Zimbabwe. Dr Chirikure explored the challenge of calculating the population of an archaeological site in which grave sites have not yet been identified.

He explained how he is calculating Great Zimbabwe's historic population, using archaeological evidence, ethnographic data, population back-projection, and ecological modelling. His work has reached the conclusion that the previously estimated population size of up to 20,000 people could not have been sustained by the Great Zimbabwe site.

Dr Chirikure emphasised that, assuming a lower population than previously estimated, Great Zimbabwe's status as one of the world's most astounding archaeological sites becomes even more preeminent. This is due to the immense achievement of building a city in which 2 million granite blocks were used to build the Great Enclosure alone, with a population which at its peak may have been no more than 2,500.

Dr Chirikure was awarded an ACU Titular Fellowship for his collaborative research visit to Linacre College at the University of Oxford, UK. His work primarily focuses on the metallurgy of major southern African archaeological sites. Dr Chirikure's principal Oxford collaborator is Professor Mark Pollard, an expert in the application of the physical sciences within archaeology.

The ACU would like to thank Linacre College for hosting this Fellowship and providing such a fantastic opportunity for Fellows to share their work at the annual lecture.

Applications for 2017-18 Fellowships are open until this Friday 12 May and more information can be found here.