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Programs : Brochure

This page is the brochure for your selected program. Questions? Email the appropriate Program Advisor listed below.
  • Locations: Krugersdorp, South Africa
  • Program Terms: Summer
Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2019 02/22/2019
Rolling Admission 06/05/2019 06/26/2019
Summer 2020 02/01/2020 ** Rolling Admission 06/13/2020 07/04/2020

** Early application is strongly recommended for all programs. Deadlines that fall on a weekend or holiday are automatically extended to the next workday.

Deadline has passed
Program Description:

WU's Drimolen Cave Field School Summer Program
Krugersdorp, South Africa

Drimolen skull
  South AfricaThe Drimolen Cave Field School will provide students with a hands-on introduction to methods of paleontology, geology and survey in a setting provided by one of the more important paleoanthropological sites in the Africa. The objective of the field school is to give students an introduction to everything they need to know about paleoanthropology in South Africa.

The most distinctive quality of the field school is that it allows students to excavate at a site that has yielded extremely important fossils relevant to human evolution. These include the most complete skull ever found of Paranthropus robustus, an early human relative from South Africa dating to nearly 2 million years ago. The site has also produce fossils of some of the earliest known members of the genus Homo, the group to which we belong. In recent years, students themselves have discovered important human fossils. For anyone interested in paleoanthropology, human evolution, or the evolutionary sciences in general, this can be a transformative experience. Typically, human fossils are discovered every year.
Eligibility: 3.0 GPA Minimum.

Program Dates:
Term Program Dates Application Deadline
Summer 2019 June 5 - June 26 February 15
* All applications must be completed online by the application deadline. Incomplete applications will not be considered

  Approved Departments: All students welcome

Anthropology & Archaeology
Coursework: L48-467, “Field Methods in Paleoanthropology,” 3 credits, NSM

The course includes practical exposure to excaDrimolen Sitevation and survey methods, nightly lectures on a variety of topics covering paleoanthropology, geology, and archaeology delivered by some of the leading scholars in those disciplines, as well as younger researchers in the process of getting their doctoral degrees. Lectures and practical training will be supplemented by four excursions meant to be both educational and entertaining (see below). Students will be expected to keep a daily log of their activities and observations, including details of their excavation records, to be handed in for grading at the end of the season. There will also be three weekly quizzes.
  South AfricaThe first excursion will be a part-day trip will be to Wonder Cave, which is a tourist cavern located in a nature reserve just adjacent to the N’Gomo Lodge, on whose property the Drimolen Cave site is found. The cave preserves a number of geological features that illustrate many of the geological processes that produced the fossil-bearing deposit that we are excavating at Drimolen. This excursion will take place on the first day after the students arrive so that they have a grounding in cave geology before entering the field site.
The second excursion will be full-day trip that entails a visit to the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand, and also to the Ditsong Museum (formerly the Transvaal Museum) where students will have the opportunity to observe in a private setting some of the most important fossils relevant to human evolution. These fossils are international treasures usually only accessible to researchers. Dr. Strait will provide a narrative of what the students are looking at. This is scheduled at the very beginning of the field season so that students have an appreciation of what they are searching for, and also what fossil bone looks like.
The third excursion will be a full-day-trip to visit several of the famous paleontological sites in the “Cradle of Humankind”, a region within which Drimolen is found that contains several paleontological sites that are of international significance. This will serve to contextualize the students’ experience digging at Drimolen, and also provide an opportunity to appreciate variation in the complexity of South African paleontological sites.
The fourth excursion will be an over-night trip to Pilanesberg National Park , a game reserve about 2.5 hours drive from the field site. We will drive to the park in the morning, have lunch, and participate in an afternoon game drive. The team will stay overnight in the lodge, and then participate in a morning game drive as well.

  South AfricaThe field site sits on the property of a safari lodge N’Gomo Safari Lodge. The lodge is set up for family camping, corporate outings, and conferences.  Field school students would be housed in two-person platform tents that are well sealed against the elements (no need to worry about wind or rain). Each tent is equipped with two beds and bedding is provided. Bathroom facilities are attached to each tent, although the privacy of those facilities varies. Students wanting more privacy can use public restrooms in an attached building. Each tent is equipped with electricity and lights. We will be here during South Africa’s winter, which is warm and dry during the day (~70 degrees), but cold at night (30 – 45 degrees). Some tents have a space heater. Others provide electric blankets. The tents are arranged around a common area, and there is a truly luxurious, large building that serves as a lounge (sofas, flat screen TV, pool table, sink, refrigerator, counter space, sofas. There is a separate dining building with a fully equipped commercial-grade kitchen. The field site is a short walk (3/4 mile) from the camp on a dirt road. Laundry service is available for a nominal fee. The camp has cell phone service and internet access if students buy pay-as-you go sim cards from a service provider (Vodacom) to be used in an unlocked smart phone or unlocked mobile wifi hotspot.
  Estimated Summer 2019 Program Price: $4,600 program fee + $48.00 approx. insurance - includes three units of Washington University academic credit, housing, meals and ground transportation during the program and mandatory International Health Insurance coverage during the program. 
Students are responsible for own airfare.

For more information, contact Prof. David Strait (

Email the appropriate Overseas Programs Coordinator, visit us during our walk-in hours, join us for an information session, or call (314) 935-5958 to schedule an appointment.