Research Assistant in Prehistory and Geoarcheology

    Université de Bordeaux / University of Bordeaux
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    24/08/2022 01:00 - Europe/London
    France › Talence


The GPR ‘Human Past’: our group and our research

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 quantum leaps 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 anticipatory strategies that drive human societies.

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


Project description

Digital tracings are found in caves dated from the Middle Palaeolithic to the Protohistory. They can only be performed on cave walls with a plastic texture. A geological investigation on the walls and floors of caves bearing such tracings may allow a better understanding of these graphical expressions. Similarities observed in digital tracings attributed to different periods question their nature. Are they modes of expression carrying a particular symbolic meaning at a given time and place or evidence for continuity in the production of graphic expressions with no specific symbolic value? The fact that some digital tracings appear to have been produced without using tools may suggest they resulted from unplanned actions. A deeper understanding of their modes of execution may identify conventions and recurrences leading to the proposition of hypotheses on their significance and meaning.

The research assistant who will be integrated in this research project will be in charge of:

1 - Carrying out a literature review of the French and Iberian cave sites containing digital or similar tracings on cave walls or grounds, dated from the Palaeolithic to the Iron Age.

2 - Analysing the spatial distribution of cave areas suitable for the production of digital tracings in Middle and Upper Palaeolithic caves from southwestern France (e.g., La Roche-Cotard, Chauvet, Cussac, Rouffignac).

3- Identifying with field observations and bio-physico-chemical analyses (LIBS, Raman, X-ray fluorescence, SEM/EDS) the processes at the origin of the plastic texture of cave walls, and assess the state of preservation of these walls in decorated and not decorated caves.

4 - Creating an online database including data from the literature, field work and archaeometric analyses.


Adequacy of the project with the objectives of the GRP

Reaching a better understanding of the use of underground world in the Palaeolithic and the Mesolithic constitutes the core research question of Action 3 in the WP4 of the GPR ‘Human Past’. The study of digital tracings is integrated into that of other activities carried out by humans in the underground world (e.g., identification of recurrent pathways, lighting, traces of passage, markings on cave walls, actions on speleothems, paintings, engravings), all of which probably bear chrono-cultural significance and symbolic meaning.

More Information

Selection process

The candidates will submit their application, consisting of a letter of motivation (2 pages max. explaining in what their expertise fits the position requirements) and a CV (including list of publications, if applicable), to the supervisors mentioned in the job description, and to Romane Gracia (romane.gracia@u-bordeaux.fr), Francesco d'Errico (francesco.derrico@u-bordeaux.fr) and Adeline Le Cabec (adeline.le-cabec@u-bordeaux.fr), before August 24th, 2022.

Additional comments

Specific constraints and risks : fieldwork in underground environment

Offer Requirements


The candidate must:

- hold a Master degree in prehistory with a proven expertise in geoarchaeology and archaeometry

- have experience in scientific writing in English

- be familiar with:

- palaeolithic rock art

- fieldwork in decorated caves

- analytical methods applied to geoarchaeology and archaeometry (microscopy, mineralogical and elemental analysis)

- creation of databases and GIS tools

Map Information

Job Work Location Personal Assistance locations
Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
Université de Bordeaux / University of Bordeaux
351 cours de la Libération

EURAXESS offer ID: 802205


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