Archaeological research in South Sudan has been almost non-existent, the exception being preliminary surveys conducted by the British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA) in the gap between civil wars in 1977–1981 (David et al. 1981; Phillipson 1981; Robertshaw & Mawson 1981; Mack & Robertshaw 1982) and more recent surveys of slave trading zara'ib (fortified camps) by Paul Lane (Lane & Johnson 2009).
However, this limited data suggests that the potential for archaeological research in Africa's newest nation is huge and can contribute substantively to broader debates concerning a range of 'big topics' such as the emergence of complex hunter-foragers during the mid-Holocene, the spread of food production and metal working, agricultural intensification and the colonial encounter.
There are also strong calls from within South Sudan for the development of national heritage and a national historical narrative (e.g. Jok Madut Jok 2011) as well as for the conduct of archaeological and heritage assessments in advance of rapid infrastructural development.