“Archaeologists of the future” at the Ministry

On 30 November 2016, the “Archaeologist of the future” event at the MAEDI attracted almost 250 people, including archaeology researchers and students, journalists, and the wider public. It helped to highlight the many training programmes developed as part of the 160 ongoing missions around the world.

15 young foreign archaeologists involved in these missions were received in the best French laboratories to train or improve themselves in advanced archaeological methods. Alongside their Heads of Unit, they came to present the goal of their work placement: methods as diverse as remote sensing via lasers (LiDAR), the geographic information system (GIS), bioarchaeology, lithic, ceramological and petrographic studies, to name a few, were showcased.

This training, combined with a long-term apprenticeship in France for some students, means that they are sometimes the only specialists in their countries to master these techniques, such as the Guatemalan Carlos Morales Aguliar and his expertise in LiDAR. These young archaeologists will then go on to train the next generation of researchers in their respective countries. As a result of her training in archaeometallurgy, Kalayar Myat Myat Htwe from Myanmar hopes to be able to help develop this discipline in her home country, where archaeological research is still in its infancy.

The specialist skills of these “future archaeologists” are already helping to extend the work done by missions by addressing one of their main themes. The Egyptian Elshafaey Abdellatif Elshafaey has for several years been the co-director of all paleoenvironmental research at the Tell el-Iswid mission. In France, he received specialized training in phytoliths (micro-fossils) in order to perfect his approach. As for Marcos Paulo Ramos, he is carrying out essential work within the French-Brazilian mission in Piauí: he is responsible for examining population movements in South America in the Pleistocene epoch, and is studying them by analyzing quartz diorite material used in his work placement in two French laboratories.

Some of the missions presented are binational training programmes in their own right, like the ArRéLaT (Archaeology of the Lake Regions of Chad) mission. Focusing on studying lakes in the Ounianga region, its aim, in addition to various research operations, was to train a new generation of Chadian researchers in digital archaeology methods.

Finally, France is working on renewing the international scientific community, including in countries at war. Two young Syrian archaeologists, Yasmin Kanhoush and Georges Mouamar, are carrying out highly specialized work in laboratories in Lyon as part of their thesis. Georges Mouamar has just defended an impressive thesis on Syrian ceramic items, establishing him as the leading specialist in ceramic petrography in Syria, which is essential in order to study the history of its urbanization.

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Updated : December 2016

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