School of Arts and Cultures

Staff Profiles

Dr Aron Mazel

Reader in Heritage Studies



Aron joined the University in 2002 after a 25-year career in archaeological research and heritage and museum management in South Africa. Posts he held in South Africa included Assistant Director of the Natal Museum (1994-1997) and Director of the South African Cultural History Museum (1998-2002). Between 2002 and 2004, Aron managed the Beckensall Northumberland Rock Art Website Project, which won the 2006 Channel 4 ICT British Archaeological Award. Aron's research interests include the management and interpretation of tangible and intangible heritage; museum history; the construction of the hunter-gatherer past; dating of rock art; and Northumberland rock art. Recent book publications include Tracks in a Mountain Range: exploring of the history of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg (2007, with John Wright), Art as Metaphor: The Prehistoric Rock- Art of Britain (2007, co-edited with George Nash and Clive Waddington), and uKhahlamba: Umlando wezintaba zoKhahlamba/History of the uKhahlamba (2012, with John Wright). The latter book is unique in the South African publishing world as it is the first book on archaeology and history in the country to have been published bilingually in isiZulu and English.

Roles and Responsibilities

Module Leader – Understanding Challenges (MA) 
Module Leader - Working on a Project: Heritage (MA)
Module Leader – Our visual past: Ancient Rock Art in the UK and internationally (UG)
Admissions Tutor (MA)


BA (1977), BA Hons (1978), MA (1981), PhD (1988). All University of Cape Town

Previous Positions

2012-2015 Director: International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies (ICCHS)
2002- 2004 Research Associate (Archaeology), School of Historical Studies, University of Newcastle upon Tyne
2002 Head: Research & Interpretation (Social History), Iziko Museums of Cape Town
1998-2002 Director, South African Cultural History Museum
1994-1997 Assistant Director, Natal Museum
1981-1994 Museum Human Scientist (Archaeology), Natal Museum
1979-1981 Temporary Professional Officer (Archaeology), Natal Museum
1978 Tutor (Archaeology), University of Cape Town


Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA)
British Rock Art Group (BRAG)
Council for British Archaeology (CBA)
Museums and Galleries History Group (MGHG)
Pan African Association for Prehistory and Related Studies
South African Archaeological Society
South African Museums Association
The Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne

Honours and Awards 

The 'Northumberland Rock Art: Web Access to the Beckensall Archive' website won the 2006 British Archaeological Awards Channel 4 ICT Category.

Esteem indicators (selection)

2011–2016 Member of the International Rock-Art Research Task Group led by Professor Arsenault of the University of Montreal.
2009 Delivered an address at the UNESCO Rock Art and the World Heritage Convention meeting (South Africa)
2008-2013 External examiner at the University of Bath Spa Heritage Management undergraduate degree
2004-ongoing Committee member British Rock Art Group (BRAG)
1998-ongoing Member of Editorial Board: Southern African Humanities (KwaZulu-Natal Museum)
1999-2013 Member of Editorial Board: Public Archaeology
1995-2005 Council member of the Pan African Association of Africanists
1994-1998 Chairperson of the Southern African Association of Archaeologists (now: Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists)


Research Interests

Aron Mazel’s research interests include:

• The management and interpretation of cultural heritage
• History of South African museums
• The construction of hunter-gatherer archaeological history, including the integration of information derived from excavations with that from rock art (research area: Thukela basin, including the northern uKhahlamba-Drakensberg, South Africa)
• The absolute and relative dating of rock art
• Northumberland rock art
• The portrayal of San hunter-gatherer and Black farming community archaeological history in South African schools textbooks and museums since the 1970s
• Changing interpretations of hunter-gatherer history



Postgraduate Taught Teaching

I contribute widely across the Museums, Galleries and Heritage modules. Specifically, I am the module leader for:

Understanding Challenges (MA)
Working on a Project: Heritage (MA)
Our Visual Past: Ancient Rock Art in the UK and Internationally (UG)

 Postgraduate Research Supervision

I welcome postgraduate students who are interested to do research in any of these areas:

  • management and interpretation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage
  • heritage tourism
  • world heritage
  • museum histories
  • rock art chronology
  • Northumberland rock art
  • South Africa rock art

 Postgraduate supervision since 2010

Completed PhDs

  • Arwa Badran: Archaeological Museums and Schools: Teaching Primary-Aged Children about the Past in Jordan
  • Liz Bell: Giving Up the Dead? The Impact and Effectiveness of the Human Tissue Act and the Guidance for the Care of Human Remains in Museums in English Museums
  • Carolyn Gibbeson: Haunted Hospitals: An Actor Network Theory approach examining the role of emotional attachment in the redevelopment of Victorian Asylums.
  • Michał Ryszard Koskowski: Management of Castles in Poland in the Early 21st Century
  • Ndukuyakhe Ndlovu: A comparative analysis of rock art in southern Africa: Animals and cosmological models
  • Tony McDonald: How effectively can World Heritage in young hands support delivery of the revised National Curriculum for secondary schools in England?
  • Tori Park: Read all about it? Newspaper coverage of the archaeological excavation, retention, and reburial of human remains within the UK
  • Niki Black: Community Cultural Festivals in Northumberland: How do these events contribute to the social sustainability of their host community?
  • Katharina Massing: From ‘Theme Park’ to ecomuseum: Could the use of ecomuseum principles in Hainan Province help to safeguard the intangible heritage of its ethnic minorities?
  • Dinc Sarac: Archaeological Heritage Management in Turkey: a case study on Antalya region (SW Turkey)
  • Emma Coffield: What cultures influence the understanding and practice of learning in emergent, artist-led contemporary art institutions?
  • Yong Zhao: Safeguarding Cultural Heritage through Sustainable Cultural Heritage Tourism: A Case Study in the Historic City of Xi’an, China

Completed MLitts

  • Jane Brantom: Aspiration and Reality: World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism at the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway World Heritage Site
  • David Brough: Consideration of factors influencing progress towards the operational establishment of Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site as a serial transnational property
  • Erin Watson: Portable art or re-used rock carving? A re-analysis of the concept of portability

Current PhD students

  • Marta Alberti: Volunteering for Roman Britain: understanding motivations, expectations and impact of volunteer engagement in researching Romano British archaeological heritage
  • Harris McCoy: How and why has the business of museums impacted the profession of Museology? Are museums creating a commercial organizational culture that supports and engages its professionals?
  • Brian Moss: Engaging with Outdoor Heritage though Smartphone based Mobile Digital Interpretation
  • David Selnick: Assessing the Sufficiency of the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its Protocols to Address the Character of Modern Conflict.