Proposal for an engineer or a young Doctor



Subject : Earth workability and mechanical properties of the first ceramics in the Western Mediterranean (8000-7500 Before Present).


The CIMO ANR project, "Western Mediterranean Impressed Wares", aims at modelling the first Neolithic settlements in this region and tracing their origins, between 8000 and 7500 years Before Present, by studying the technical traditions of pottery manufacture.

The characterization of these traditions relies on a wide range of interdisciplinary skills (archaeology, geology, chemistry and material sciences) implemented to address the whole manufacturing sequence in a systemic perspective: selection of raw materials and paste preparation, forming methods (fashioning, finishing, firing...) and uses.

The contract proposed here will more specifically deal with manufacturing techniques (Work Package 4 of the project). The work will focus on archaeological sites located in the Liguro-Provençal arc, for which a wide range of data on geo-material resources and manufacturing techniques is already available. These data indicate the use of materials with various geological origins (pastes with high mineral content obtained from earth formed in granitic weathering profiles vs. more clayey pastes obtained from glauconitic clay formations). These materials show empirically contrasting qualities in terms of plasticity / workability and their use also leads to different results in terms of toughness / hardness. In addition, the biomolecular chemical analyses carried out on these different productions enabled to assume an addition of organic material as a potential binder.

Main tasks

The objectives of the proposed job are primarily to analyse the possible resources in geo-materials already identified thanks to petrography and geo-chemistry in order to (i) define their mechanical characteristics, workability and handling in the course of forming, by varying water input, kneading intensity and organic material addition and (ii) understand their behaviour during firing and use. The identification of criteria transposable to the archaeological material will be then necessary before characterizing the latter with regard to the issues defined above.

In this perspective, the main goals will be:
      •   Defining a representative and reproducible protocol for the production of experimental analogues, for carrying out mechanical tests on unfired and fired controls;
      •   Implementing and analysing series of mechanical test on:
        • -
            o cohesion, rheology and adhesion of unfired (pristine) pastes; -
            o toughness, e.g. by a Charpy test, on fired experimental analogues, as well as archaeological samples.
      • Analysing the influence of the various manufacturing parameters and establishing comparisons with archaeological sherds in order to reconstruct the technical processes implemented by the Neolithic potters.

In this context, the recruited person will participate in the development and improvement of laboratory testing equipment. She/He will also participate in the supervision of a Master 2 internship.

Administrative environment

The offer is intended for an engineer who has already graduated or a young Doctor, with training in material sciences, who has already carried out mechanical characterization tests. Knowledge in earths, clays, and technical ceramics would be an asset.

She/he will be recruited in the framework of a CNRS fixed-term contract of 9 months.

Work site: Sophia Antipolis (near Antibes, France), at CEMEF, one of the labs of the Ecole des Mines de Paris specialised in material forming. The recruited person will be required to frequently interact with the archaeologists of the CEPAM, a CNRS and Côte d'Azur University lab notably specialised in the study of prehistoric material cultures.

Salary: according to experience, calculated on the basis of the CNRS Research Engineer salary scale (from 1,700 EUR)


Alain Burr :
with copy to Didier Binder :


B.P. 207 - 06904 Sophia Antipolis Cedex
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