Archeological sciences

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, modeling and archiving). The department benefits from a research environment boasting numerous references, collections (bone library, comparative anatomy, geological library, human fossil casts, etc.) and documentary resources.

Grotte de Cussac © Olivier Got - université de Bordeaux Grotte de Cussac © Olivier Got - université de Bordeaux

The Archeological sciences department addresses archeology 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 organizations (Inrap, private companies), local public archaeological departments and museums.

Two major programs are associated with this department:

Management / leadership 

  • Director: Bruno Maureille
  • Deputy director: William Banks
  • Administrative and financial manager: Gilbert Bounaud-Devillers
  • Training and research coordinator: Jean-Baptiste Cottin


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 themes:

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, organization and transformation of human society

From the first traces of a form of collective organization 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 organization 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 Paleolithic 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 specialization, the development of technical innovations and the creation of networks, and thus the birth of specialized activities, crafts, questions of power and the emergence of States. Research is also underway to properly characterize 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 national, European and international levels, the department's components are key players in the discovery and development of archeological and paleoanthropological heritage, as well as its safeguarding and promotion within society, in close collaboration with the dedicated services of the Ministries concerned and international organizations. Intangible heritage is a source of major challenges and it’s 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 Archeological sciences department and the Environmental sciences department.

Key figures

  • 1 joint research unit, 1 joint service unit & 1 federation
  • 90 tenured & 39 contract staff (doctoral students, post-docs, etc.)
  • 1 doctoral school

Component structures of the department

This department has 3 main units that are under the joint supervision of the University of Bordeaux and the CNRS. The other two units are under the supervision of Bordeaux Montaigne University.

Primary units 

Secondary unit (to be confirmed)

Structures with a cooperation agreement 


Component council

In its restricted University of Bordeaux-only format, the council is made up of 14 members, including 7 lecturer-researchers and researchers, 3 support staff, 1 doctoral student or post-doctoral student and 3 external members (representatives of the CNRS, the French Ministry for Culture and the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region).

In plenary format, it is composed of 27 members, including 16 lecturer-researchers or equivalent, 5 support staff, 3 doctoral/post-doctoral students and 3 external members (representatives of the CNRS, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, the French Ministry for Culture).

Directors' committee

The committee is made up of the director of the department, the deputy director, the directors of the research units (UMR) or service units (UMS and FR), and the sdrectors of affiliated or associated units.

Scientific council

The Scientific council is composed of 3 members: Prof. David Sanderson (environmental physics), Prof. Frédéric Hurlet (Roman history) and Prof. Dominique Grimaud-Hervé (paleoanthropologist).


  • One of the department’s important pieces of equipment, an RX microscanner, is situated within the Placamat platform
  • Archeovision equipment: 3D technologies
  • The department's units also have several technical centers, some of which could evolve into platforms depending on the current certification process at the University of Bordeaux: paleogenetics, digital radiology, microscopy, digital imaging, etc.

Doctoral schools

Updated on 15/09/2021


Gilbert Bounaud-Devillers
Administrative and financial manager

51, cours de la Libération - Building A33
CS 10004
33405 Talence Cedex

05 40 00 31 36
Contact by email

Research booklet

Discover our multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and international research!


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