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Sebastien Manem

  • MA, PhD
  • Honorary Research Associate, UCL Institute of Archaeology
  • Marie Curie Research Fellow 2011-13

Research Interests

  • Cultural and technological evolution
  • Anthropology of technology

Current Research Project

BRONZE AGE - European Bronze Age Cultures and technical evolution: a Phylogenetic Approach

European Bronze Age cultures (2200-800 BC) and archaeological material are generally studied in terms of finished artefacts. In contrast, the proposed research is centred on observing the physical modalities by which the raw material is transformed into a finished object: the chaîne opératoire. Technical behaviours represent a link with the body and mind, and are a consequence of the socio-cultural environment in which the individual developed. They are the result of a transfer of technical tradition from one generation to another, but are impossible to model with current tools because of the complex link between their evolution and the processes of invention.

Using contemporary cultures, one insular (Deverel-Rimbury, UK) and the other continental (Duffaits Culture, France), the aim of this project is to understand and model the origin and evolution of the techno-diversity seen in Middle Bronze Age. Are these two cultures founded on learning and applying a transmitted technical tradition that evolved from a single source and then diversified (phylogenesis) or did it derive from multiple sources that then recombined in various way (ethnogenesis) ? Do we see a link between the nature of evolution and the geographical position of territory (insular vs continental)? Does a 'common ancestor' exist between insular and continental traditions?

Phylogenetic trees and networks are based on the principle of descent with modification and represent the best way to illustrate the ancestor-descendant relationships; they allow us to perceive the familial ties between technical traditions over time, to identify their common ancestor, and the endogenous or exogenous nature of the evolutionary processes. On the basis of the chaîne opératoire concept and a phylogeographic approach, together with a 3D geographical distribution model of the lineage, this multidisciplinary project aims to establish a new paradigm for Bronze Age and a new methodology for the anthropology of technology.


  • Membre de la Société Préhistorique Française (2001-)
  • Membre du Groupe d’Etudes et de Recherches du Musée d’Angoulême (2002-)
  • Membre de l’Association pour la Promotion de la Recherche sur l’âge du Bronze (2003-)
  • Membre du Laboratoire de Préhistoire et Technologie, UMR 7055 du CNRS, Université de Paris 10 (2009-)
  • Project "Dynamique des peuplements dans les marges forestières de l'Afrique Centrale durant l'Holocène. Le cas de la région de Djohong, Cameroun" (Ministère des Affaires Etrangères/CNRS), directed by Dr Etienne Zangato (UMR 7055 - CNRS) (2010-)

Educational Background

  • 2010/2011: Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives (INRAP). Project 'Canal Seine Nord Europe' directed by Marc Talon & project 'Alizay, Haute-Normandie', directed by Cyril Marcigny
  • 2009: Fyssen Foundation postdoctoral study grant (Paris), Department of Archaeology, University of Exeter. Project : 'Rôles et impacts des frontières naturelles sur les comportements techniques. L’exemple des cultures de l’âge du Bronze autour de la Manche'. Supervisor: Prof. Anthony Harding.
  • 2008: PhD, Université de Paris 10 - UMR 7055 du CNRS. Thesis title: 'Les fondements technologiques de la culture des Duffaits (âge du Bronze moyen). PhD Director: Prof. Catherine Perlès (Université de Paris 10); Secondary Supervisor: Dr Valentine Roux (Director of Research, CNRS).
  • Manem S. (In press) – Les lieux naturels atypiques, source du paysage rituel : le karst de la Rochefoucauld et la Culture des Duffaits (Charente, France), in Wirth S., Beranger, S. (ed) Paysages funéraires de l’âge du Bronze – Gräberlandschafter der Bronzezeit, LWL-Archäologie für Westfalen.
  • Manem S. (In prep) French Middle Bronze Age ceramics: questions regarding the origin of cultural identities and technical traditions, in McFadyen L., Marcigny C. (ed.) Prehistoric France, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  • Manem S. (In press) – The Bronze Age use of cave in France: reinterpreting their functions and the spatial logic of their deposits through the chaîne opératoire concept, in Bergsvik K.A., Skeates R. (ed) Caves in context. The cultural signification of caves and rockshelters in Europe, Oxford, Oxbow Books.
  • Manem S. (2010) – Des habitats aux sites de rassemblement à vocation rituelle. L'âge du Bronze selon le concept de "chaîne opératoire", Les Nouvelles de l'Archéologie, 119, p.30-36.
  • Manem S. (2007) – Analyse technologique et diachronique des productions de tasses de la grotte des Perrats (Agris, Charente) durant l’Âge du Bronze moyen et implications sur le statut des occupations, in Evin J. (ed.) Un siècle de construction du discours scientifique en Préhistoire. XXVIe Congrès Préhistorique de France.Volume III, « aux conceptions d’aujourd’hui », Paris, Editions de la Société Préhistorique Française, p. 441-454
  • Manem S. (2004) – Approche archéo-stratigraphique de la céramique de transfert du Bronze moyen de la grotte des Perrats à Agris (Charente), Bulletin de l'Association pour la Promotion de la Recherche sur l'Âge du Bronze, 1.

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