Archaeological sciences

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The department conducts multi- and interdisciplinary research on human populations of the past from all time periods, and examines their natural and cultural environments and interactions. It makes use of major developments in technology and methodology, in particular 3D technologies for cultural heritage (acquisition, modelling and archiving). The department benefits from a research environment boasting numerous references, collections (bone archive, comparative anatomy, geological library, human fossil casts, etc.) and documentary resources.

The Archaeological sciences department addresses archaeology in its broadest sense.

The department’s aim is to study and understand the history of the past from the earliest periods of our African origins to the very recent past, including cultural productions, societies, symbolic activities and relationships with the deceased and their diachrony.

Members of the department are also closely involved in the production of primary data through the management of field operations in France and abroad, as well as the societal and cultural promotion of different forms of heritage.

The department’s scientists also belong to several communities: academic, the CNRS, the French Ministry of Culture, Preventive Archaeology organisations (Inrap, private companies), local public archaeological departments and museums. 


  • Mélina Abdou

    Scientific Outreach Coordinator

  • Thomas Bertin

    Thomas Bertin Administrative and Finance Manager, Departmental Steering Support Service (DRV/RIPI)
    351, cours de la Libération -
    Bât. A33 CS 10004 33405 TALENCE Cedex

  • Milena Kerkour

    Administrative assistant - Departmental Steering Support Service (DRV/RIPI)
    351, cours de la Libération -
    Bât. A33 CS 10004 33405 TALENCE Cedex


The department’s research activities concern all aspects (chronological, environmental, biological, cultural, etc.) allowing for the study and understanding of societies of the past and their outputs (from early prehistory to historical periods).

Its activities are divided into 5 areas:

Biological and cultural evolutions, human and environmental migrations 

From the earliest representatives to the present day, pre-humans and humans have evolved both biologically and culturally. Up until a certain period, about which there is no consensus, or depending on the level of observation, these evolutions were linked to a variety of causes (environmental, cognitive, demographic, migratory, etc.). Fundamental research is being conducted on the diversity of these evolutions as well as their contemporary natural or cultural environments and their interactions from the first representatives of the Homo genus through to historical periods (Antiquity, Middle Ages).

Emergence, organisation and transformation of human society

From the first traces of a form of collective organisation to the complex societies of the contemporary era, every aspect of human society is studied to provide a better understanding of the origin, development and disappearance of the various forms of societal organisation that humans have created.

Material, symbolic and artistic productions: resources, techniques and uses

Humans have developed the ability to exploit their environment in a way that is made totally unique by its cumulative character. This department studies the different modalities of technical, economic and cultural exploitation (and their products, consequences and forms of expression) of natural resources by societies in prehistoric and historical periods. At a given moment in our history, this exploitation was also accompanied by a new form of interaction through the invention of various forms of symbolic expression, such as memorial spaces, including funerary complexes, painted caves from the Palaeolithic era, etc.

Circulation of goods and ideas, transmission of knowledge

Humans from prehistoric and historical periods exchanged goods and/or ideas and disseminated them in a wide variety of ways that influenced cultural development. The exploitation of the environment was gradually, and then rapidly, marked by different periods of specialisation, the development of technical innovations and the creation of networks, and thus the birth of specialised activities, crafts, questions of power and the emergence of States. Research is also underway to properly characterise and understand different aspects of the creativity and inventiveness of the human lineage. There is no equivalent within the living kingdom, to the point of having altered the natural climate balances and impacted our heritage as never before.

Material and immaterial heritage: a societal challenge

Highly involved in field research activities at French, European and international levels, the department's units are key players in the discovery and development of archaeological and paleoanthropological heritage, as well as its safeguarding and promotion within society, in close collaboration with the dedicated services of the French Ministries concerned and international organisations. Intangible heritage is a source of major challenges and its study involves the use of innovative approaches and technologies.

The department is directly associated with the ANR-PIA1 project LaScAr-Bx Laboratory of Excellence, which addresses the use of the world by ancient societies, including processes and forms of appropriation of space over long periods of time. 

Another ANR-PIA1 project, the COTE (Continental and Coastal Ecosystems) Laboratory of Excellence, has promoted the development of interdisciplinary research between members of the Archaeological Sciences department and the Environmental Sciences department.

Major Research Programmes (GPR)

Major Research Programme certified in the spring of 2021 is coordinated by this department:

  • Human Past coordinated by Francesco d’Errico, CNRS researcher in the Pacea laboratory (Prehistory to Present Time: Culture, Environment, Anthropology laboratory - CNRS, French Ministry of Culture and University of Bordeaux)
    Other research departments involved: Environmental sciences and Bordeaux Neurocampus
    Other organisations involved: Pacea, Ausonius, Archéosciences Bordeaux (Federation of Bordeaux Archaeological Sciences)

Key figures

  • 1

    joint research unit

    1 joint service unit & 1 federation

  • 90

    tenured staff

    & 39 contract staff (doctoral students & post-docs, etc.)

  • 1

    doctoral school

Organisation and partners

Departmental units

Rattachement principal

Unité associée


Conseil de composante

Il est composé, en mode restreint université de Bordeaux, de 14 membres, dont 7 enseignants-chercheurs et chercheurs, 3 personnels BIATSS/ITA, 1 doctorant ou post-doctorant et 3 personnalités extérieures (représentants du CNRS , de la Région Nouvelle Aquitaine, du Ministère de la culture).

En mode plénier, il est composé de 27 membres, dont 16 enseignants-chercheurs et assimilés, 5 personnels BIATSS/ITA, 3 doctorants/post-doctorants et 3 personnalités extérieures (représentants du CNRS , de la Région Nouvelle Aquitaine, du Ministère de la culture).

Comités des directeurs

Il est composé du directeur du département, du directeur-adjoint, des directeur.e.s des structures de recherches (UMR) ou de service (UMS et FR), des directeurs des unités rattachées ou associées.

Conseil scientifique

Il est composé de 3 membres : Pr. David Sanderson (physique environnementale), Pr. Frédéric Hurlet (Histoire romaine) et Pr. Dominique Grimaud-Hervé (paléoanthropologue).


  • Un équipement important du département, un microscanner RX est implanté au sein de la plateforme Placamat
  • Équipement Archeovision : technologies 3D
  • Les unités du département disposent aussi de plusieurs plateaux techniques dont certains pourraient évoluer vers des plateformes selon le processus de labellisation en cours de l’Université de Bordeaux : paléogénétique, radiologie numérique, microscopie, imagerie numérique...


Chronological: Quaternary, Prehistory, Protohistory, Antiquity, Middle Ages Disciplinary and Methodological: biological anthropology, archaeology of technology, archaeology of buildings, archeometry, archeothanatology, archeozoology, chronology, epigraphy, evolution, geoarcheology, geochronology, geomatics, geology, history, history of art, digital humanities, imaging and 3D, statistical methods, modelling, paleontology, paleogenetics, paleoenvironment, philology, taphonomy