PhD position in Archaeometry


Topic : Exploitation of chloriteschists in Nord-Eastern Madagascar in

the frame of the great trade network of the Indian Ocean (circa 700 –
1700 AD).
Swiss National Sciences Foundation / Research Project 105211_172794
Commitment Rate : 100 % Duration : 4 years
Starting Date : 1er october 2017 or as agreed.
Supervision : Prof. Vincent Serneels, Departement of Géosciences,
University of Fribourg, Switzerland

Context :
Between 700 and 1700 AD, the North-Eastern part of Madagascar was involved in the trade
network of the Indian Ocean. Several coastal sites were populated by Islamized groups
exploiting the local raw materials. It was the case of chloriteschists, a specific type of
metamorphic rocks easy to carve and used for the production of vessels and pots. About 30
quarries are known in this part of the island. Fragments of chloriteschists artefacts have been
recovered from archaeological site on Madagascar, the Comors, Tanzania and further North
on the coast of Africa. It is probable that malagasy chloriteschists were exported to the
Arabian Peninsula but other similar rockjs were used at the time in this area.

Research Aims :
The PhD proeject aims to study the production of medieval vessels made off chloriteschists in
the NE part of Madagascar, both reagrding the technology of production and the
characterization of the materials. The first component of the study is the fieldwork (location
and description of the quarries, sampling, archaeological excavation). The second component
is the laboratory based characterization of the materials (geochemistry, mineralogy and
petrology). The diffusion of the products up to the Persian Gulf will be study through the
characterization of several collection of fragments from archaeological sites outside the
production area and the comparison with the data available for the chloriteschists and
soapstones in the Middle East. Workshop remains and surface morphology of the artefacts
will be used to characterize the technologies.
This PhD is part of a larger project involving several researchers on the field and in the

Requested background and skills
Master in Sciences, preferably in Earth Sciences.
Strong knowledge in mineralogie-petrologie, especially in microscopy.
Basic knowledge of the French language is mandatory for fieldwork in Madagascar.
Strong interest for archaeology and archaeometry.
Taste of travel and ability to adapt to fieldwork conditions

Desired skils:
Practical experience in archaeological fieldwork and topography
Good knowledge in metamorphic petrology
Practical experience in laboratory techniques (XRF, XRD, SEM, etc)
Basic linguistic knowledge in French / german / English
Practical experience in GIS
Deadline for application: 15.7.2017
Email address for application:
Requested documents
Curriculum Vitae
Motivation letter
Preferably : PDF of Master work

Unit of Earth Sciences - Chemin du Musée 6 - 1700 Fribourg - Tel +41 26 / 300 89 70
nicole.bruegger[at] - Swiss University