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Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour (SapienCE)

Research group information


Carin Andersson Dahl
Simon Armitage
Kenneth Jan Hugdahl
Sieghard Gunter Beller
Torill Christine Lindström
Margit Hildegard Simon
Anna Nele Meckler
Stefan Pieter Sobolowski
Karen Loise van Niekerk
Andrea Bender
Christopher Miller
Sarah Jacoba Deborah Wurz
Francesco d'Errico
Eystein Jansen
Christopher Stuart Henshilwood
Stein-Erik Lauritzen
Magnus Mathisen Haaland


Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion

Research group manager

Christopher Stuart Henshilwood

Responsible units(s)


Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour (SapienCE) - SFF CoE at the University of Bergen Key world-class competences exist at UiB that span the interdisciplinary requirements of our planned research. The clear advantage of SapienCE is that it will establish a unified organisational identity with latitude for independent yet focussed research projects at UiB. It will allow us to recruit a highly motivated, inter-disciplinary team that will share a research space thus promoting and facilitating the exchange of ideas, and enthusiasm, over a long enough time span that allows for innovative yet integrated insights. A shared laboratory concept allows for the constant interaction of diverse scientists, application of novel methods and the integration of diverse streams of evidence. It will provide flexibility for growth and shifts in disciplinary emphasis, while retaining the strengths of projects led by researchers who are highly competent in their specific fields. SapienCE will provide a platform for obtaining extra funding through successful bids to the RCN, ERC and other funding bodies; it will create financial controls, governance and instruments that enable us to embark on new avenues of investigation as they arise. It will minimise bureaucracy while maintaining clear lines of responsibility and accountability and thus offer a strong framework for inter-disciplinary interaction. Naturally, beneficial synergies and co-operations will be actively encouraged and planned, and it is anticipated that existing collaborative projects will continue and new ones initiated. Drawing on the diversity of the teams’ strengths, and with the support of SapienCE, major research breakthroughs will be achieved in the examination of the links across and between innovative material culture, subsistence adaptations, the role of changes in micro- and macro- environments and climate, cognitive development, social organisation and the evolution of symbolically mediated behaviour. A cohesive research platform comprised of top scientists guided by experienced leaders can and will consolidate UiB and Norway’s position as a world leader in human origins research over the next decade. To achieve these goals will require visionary, determined and practical leadership to ensure that by 2020 SapienCE will have attained top research status. This implies embarking on bold strategies that will: (i) pursue an ambitious internationalisation strategy that will project SapienCE as a world-class centre of intellectual engagement and a preferred destination for top-class international scholars and students; (ii) fully exploit its competitive advantages by building consistently on existing strengths and nurturing new avenues for engagement where it can produce ground breaking research; (iii) sustain and increase research output in high impact journals; (iv) increase its intake and training of postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows; (v) provide a high-quality support environment and top-class infrastructure for its core functions; (vi) become recognised among academics globally as a gateway to knowledge and understanding of early H. sapiens evolution in southern Africa. Interdisciplinarity lies at the heart of SapienCE. Data derived from each of the disciplines will be submitted to the critical thinking filters of the other groups. An ongoing process of brainstorming, discussion, re-working data and rethinking processes and methodologies within a single centre in Bergen will produce novel yet highly relevant results not ordinarily obtained from intra-discipline research. Our approach will thus facilitate an effective and creative teamwork model across and between disciplines that is specifically focussed on building scientific excellence. The results will provide ground-breaking, unique insights into the behaviours of early H. sapiens.