Heritage studies

The service is devoted to research on the past and present of African societies. It focuses on determining the context in which ancient and contemporary material culture was used and produced.

Objects are analysed from two perspectives: that of formal and stylistic comparison, manufacturing processes, and study of materials; and their uses and geographic distribution.

Our methodological tools derive from different disciplines:

  • historical and prehistoric archaeology
  • anthropology
  • ethnology
  • historical comparative linguistics
  • lexicostatistics
  • art history.



Scientific personnel

  • Els Cornelissen, Head of Department a.i.
    Project coordination, Archaeology, Late Stone Age in Central Africa
  • Noémie Arazi, Archaeologist
    Historical archaeology, provenance studies
  • Lies Busselen, Anthropologist-Historian
    Colonial history, Provenance research, contact DRC for PROCHE
  • Célia Charkaoui, Project PROCHE, administrative coordination
  • Madelon Dewitte, Jurist, Art Historian
    Provenance Research, PROCHE
  • Agnès Lacaille, Art Historian, museologist
    History of collections
  • Nicolas Nikis, Archaeologist
    Archaeology of Central Africa, Comparative technology (pottery and metallurgy), Exchange and trade networks
  • Alexandre Livingstone Smith, Archaeologist
    Archaeology of Central Africa, Anthropology of technology, Pottery traditions in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Sara Tassi, Provenance Research, PROCHE
  • Julien Volper, Curator ethnography
    Art history, ancient arts and cultures of Central Africa


Emeritus researchers


Assessments are carried out free of charge for ethnographic and archaeological objects from sub-Saharan Africa

For ethical reasons, no indication of market value nor opinion regarding the authenticity of a piece will be expressed.

  • Ethnographic objects
    By appointment only every first Wednesday of February, April, June, August, October and December. 
    Contact: Julien Volper
  • Prehistoric stone artefacts
    By appointment.
    Contact: Els Cornelissen
  • Pottery
    By appointment.
    Contact: Alexandre Livingstone Smith
    For people living or working in Africa with an interest in documenting the production of contemporary pottery, Alexandre Livingstone Smith provides, by appointment, an explanation and guidance concerning surveys. This information is indispensable for the development of a reference database.
Archaeological map of the DR Congo

An archaeological map of the DRC is under construction.

It is largely based on the RMCA’s collections. At present, 60% of the sites mentioned in the RMCA’s archaeological inventories have been localised geographically. While the DRC as a whole bears traces of a rich archaeological heritage, some regions were, and still remain, the object of much greater attention.

> Download the archaeological map of the DRC (jpg, 207 Kb)

Map legend:

  • Black circles: undated site from the RMCA collections.
  • Red triangles: dated sites.
  • Yellow: savanna.
  • Green: forest.
Field Manual for African Archaeology

This manual aims at explaining essential concepts pertaining to the practice of conducting archaeological field work in Africa.

> Download the Field Manual for African Archaeology