Robert Soper joined the Institute from the Nigerian Federal Department of Antiquities at the beginning of 1965, at the time when the Institute was being relocated to Nairobi.
His main research involved a series of pioneering surveys of Iron Age sites in south-eastern and central Kenya, north-eastern Tanzania, the Mwanza area south of Lake Victoria and the Chobi area of Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda. The discovery of the Kwale tradition extended the distribution of the Early Iron Age complex to the East African coast. He took over the directorship of the Institute’s Bantu Studies project from Brian Fagan. He also assisted Neville Chittick in excavations at Kilwa and Manda.
He left in 1972 to take up a Senior Lectureship in the newly created Archaeology Department at Ibadan, Nigeria. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Zimbabwe.