Postdoctoral fellowship in Pigment and Residue Analysis

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    Université de Bordeaux / University of Bordeaux
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    Recognised Researcher (R2)
    30/01/2022 01:00 - Europe/London
    France › Talence


The GPR ‘Human Past’: our group and our research / Le GPR “Human Past”: notre groupe et notre recherche

The GPR (Grand Programme de Recherche) ‘Human Past’ is an interdisciplinary research project supported by the University of Bordeaux's Initiative d’Excellence. ‘Human Past’ gathers ~110 researchers from 3 laboratories (PACEA, AUSONIUS, and Archéosciences Bordeaux) affiliated with the University of Bordeaux (UB) and the University of Bordeaux Montaigne (UBM). Our expertise combines Biological Anthropology, Classical and Medieval Archaeology, Prehistory, Protohistory, History, Epigraphy, Archaeometry, Geochronology and Computer Science Applications to Cultural Heritage.

’Human Past’ aims to document, characterize and understand the tipping points that have induced major biological and cultural changes within past human populations. Spanning a large chronological period (from Prehistory to historical times), our research aims to identify the steps that enabled a primate originally adapted to African ecosystems to evolve into a species that occupies and impacts every ecosystem on the planet. Biological and social systems will be scrutinized at different scales from a multitude of perspectives with particular attention paid to phenotypic and genetic variability, cognition, technology, social organization, belief systems, and genetic and cultural adaptive strategies that drive human societies.

This position advertisement belongs to the first part of the funding scheme, planned for 4 years.

Project description / Description du projet

In order to understand how, when and among which human populations symbolic material culture emerged, and determine which mechanisms were implicated in its emergence, consolidation and complexification, members of the GPR ‘Human Past’ wish to investigate the initial occurrences of pigment use, personal ornamentation, engravings, and ritual use of cave systems. We plan to apply cutting-edge methodologies (e.g., SEM-EDS, confocal microscopy, µ-Raman, XRD, pXRF, FTIR, ICP-MS, PIXE ) and novel frames of inference to analyse archaeological material and cave art from Africa, Europe, East and South-East Asia, over a period spanning 400 ky. In Africa we will study the earliest evidence of pigment use at sites from Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Sudan. In East Asia we will study ochre use at key sites, including the famous site of Zoukoudian Upper Cave and Xiamabei, an unpublished site revealing a precocious production of red pigment in China. In Europe we will reassess Neanderthal pigment use by analysing material found at sites from western and eastern Europe, and by conducting new analyses of manganese oxides used by Neanderthals in south-western France.

The post-doctoral candidate will conduct independent research and collaborate with members of the GPR ‘Human Past’ in the analysis of pigments and residues from these regions. The candidate will have a demonstrated competence in the use of analytical techniques such as SEM-EDS, XRD, µ-Raman, FT-IR, PIXE/PIGE. The candidate will also have a confirmed experience in the storage, treatment, analysis and interpretation of the captured data.

Adequacy of the postdoctoral project with the objectives of the GRP / Adéquation du projet post-doctoral avec les objectifs du GPR

A significant debate persists as to whether the key behavioural features that make us humans, and in particular the ability to produce symbolic material culture, originated with anatomically modern Homo sapiens or if they emerged gradually in the context of biological and cultural interactions between diverse hominin populations in myriad climatic and geographic settings. Behaviours indicative of symbolic practices (e.g., pigment use, personal ornamentation, mortuary practices, abstract engravings and drawings, systems of notation) appear at different times in Africa and some of these innovations seem to disappear for thousands of years and then reappear in other forms. This pattern contradicts the idea of an exponential expansion linked to the sudden origin of a species, Homo sapiens, associated with new cognitive abilities. How these regional trajectories were conditioned by biological, environmental, demographic, and social factors warrants further attention. In other words, are we facing a single tipping point or a number of asynchronous ones, triggered by mechanisms that still need to be identified?

More Information

Selection process

The candidate will submit their application, consisting of a letter of motivation (2 pages max.) and a CV (including list of publications, if applicable), to the supervisors mentioned in the job description, and to Adrien Pourtier (adrien.pourtier@u-bordeaux.fr), Francesco D'Errico (francesco.derrico@u-bordeaux.fr) and Adeline Le Cabec (adeline.le-cabec@u-bordeaux.fr), before January 30, 2022.

Offer Requirements


The candidate must:

- hold a PhD in archaeology, archeometry, chemistry and be experienced in the textural, elemental and structural analysis of archaeological pigments and residues.

- demonstrate they are an active international researcher, fit for large-scale comparisons.

- be fluent in English and preferably also in French.

- have a demonstrated experience in the preparation and submission of articles in English.

Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
Université de Bordeaux / University of Bordeaux
351 cours de la Libération

EURAXESS offer ID: 727893


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