Grantee – Fidelis Masao

Grantee – Fidelis Masao

Nationality: Tanzanian

Institution:  University of Dar es Salaam

Department:  Archaeology and Heritage Studies

PAST programme support: Research project support

Project title: Efforts at establishing Developed Oldowan/ Early Acheulean Industries in Mbulu/Lake Eyasi basin, Tanzania.


Dr Fidelis Masao was born in Moshi, northern Tanzania but grew up in Kenya where he received Primary, Secondary and University Education. In 1970, he was awarded a Ford Foundation fellowship to study a Masters’ Degree in Anthropology at the University of Colorado Boulder, in the US. Three years later, he joined the Simon Fraser University in Canada where he completed his did Ph.D. in Archaeology, working on the Later Stone Age and the Rock Paintings of central Tanzania for his thesis.

Following completion of his PhD in 1977, Dr Masao was appointed the first national director of the National Museums of Tanzania, a position he held until 1991 when he decided to move to the University of Dares Salaam as senior lecturer in Archaeology. While still at the Museum, he met Prof. Robert Blumenschine (PAST Chief Scientist) at the J.D. Conference in Berkeley in 1986. Prof Blumenschine shared a new approach to archaeological fieldwork; the siteless or landscape archaeology and invited Dr Masao to join hands with him and together and establish the Olduvai Landscape Palaeanthropology Project (OLAPP) in 1989. OLAPP has given birth to other projects which are still working at Olduvai.

Although Dr Masao still works at Olduvai with the Tanzania Human Origin Research Group (THOR), he has also opened up the northern Mbulu Plateau in northern Tanzania where he trying to document the archaeological potential of the area.