Dr Ashton Sinamai
Marie Curie Research Fellow

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Ashton Sinamai specialised in the archaeology of Early and Late Farming Communities in southern Africa. He has expanded his interest to Critical Heritage Studies, focusing on tangible/intangible heritage, traditional knowledge systems of Africa and Australia, indigenous archaeologies, identity and representation as well as memory and World Heritage studies. He has a B.A Honours in Archaeology (University of Zimbabwe), MA Heritage Studies/Public History, (University of the Western Cape, South Africa) and was awarded a PhD in Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies from Deakin University, (Australia). Ashton has worked as an archaeologist and heritage inspector for the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe and the National Museum of Namibia. He has also carried out heritage work in Botswana, Kenya, Sudan and South Africa. Ashton has also taught Cultural Heritage Studies at the Midlands State University (Zimbabwe). He joined the Department of Archaeology as a Marie Curie Research Fellow in 2015. 



The METAPHOR project uses stories, folklore and legends to understand and explore the links between time, place and people. The research argues that traditional stories and folklore contain a significant element of a landscape’s biography and should therefore be explored to build a fuller understanding of cultural landscapes. It recognizes that language contains long-cultivated knowledge about a place and this knowledge can be useful in mapping cultural landscapes. When language ceases to have words that describe a landscape, that landscape becomes vulnerable to being ‘un-inherited’.  The project therefore captures these stories and explores how they can be used to define and sustain cultural landscapes. It explores ways into how these metaphors could be used in archaeological research and heritage management. The project utilises cultural landscapes in Australia (Uluru) and Zimbabwe (Great Zimbabwe). Using the narrative inquiry methodology the project collects oral, written and visual narratives and explores their meanings beyond their literal translations. It thus focuses on the experiences of people over time in the places selected. The research highlights the social nature of cultural landscapes and the invisible and indivisible bond between people and places. The ultimate aim of the project is to re-define cultural heritage by refocusing attention on the immaterial elements of material culture and challenging traditional philosophies about time, objects spaces and cultural landscapes.

External activities


Prehistory Society of Zimbabwe, Member

Australian Archaeology Association (AAA), Member

Association for Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA), Member

Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA), Member

Pan African Archaeological Association (PanAf), Member

International Scientific Committee on Archaeological Heritage Management (ICAHM), Expert Member


Contact details

Dr Ashton Sinamai
Marie Curie Research Fellow
University of York
King's Manor