Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion

PhD candidate wins best student paper award

Archaeologist Magnus M. Haaland received the award at peer-reviewed conference in Newcastle.

Magnus Mathiesen Haaland
Magnus Mathiesen Haaland holding his award.

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Haaland, who is a PhD candidate at the Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion, won the Best Student Paper Award at the recently held Developing International Geoarchaeology conference in Newcastle, UK. The annual specialist conference for geo-archaeologists was held for the 7th time at the beginning of September.

– The aim of the conference is for scholars to present the latest developments in geo-archaeological research, and overall it was very well organized and included many high-quality papers on topics from all over the world, says Haaland.

He also notes how welcome the coffee, tea and biscuits served before the first morning sessions were.

–This was very much appreciated. Other conferences should take note!


As for his award-winning paper, the junior archaeologist presented, for the first time, a broader synthesis of his doctoral work, which he has spent the last four years working on.

– I have been developing a new range of geo-scientific techniques during the last couple of years, Haaland tells us.

– They are aimed at solving very specific problems and issues related to the study of archaeological sediments in the Middle Stone Age context of Blombos Cave, South Africa.

Blombos Cave serves as the basis for a new Centre of Excellence at the Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion at UiB. The centre, titled SapienCE - Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour, is spearheaded by UiB Professor Christopher Henshilwood, a researcher that PhD candidate Haaland has been learning from and assisting for several years already.

Haaland also credits his collaboration with Professor Christopher Miller and the geoarchaeology group at the University of Tübingen, Germany, for the findings he presented in Newcastle.

Surprised by win

– In my conference talk, I showed how all these new methods finally were combined and implemented all at once, and more importantly, I discussed the archaeological implications of my results.

– These will be published in detail in a peer-reviewed paper that I am currently finalizing, promises Haaland.

The talented young academic insists the award was totally unexpected.

– I was very surprised, given that there were so many good talks. Obviously, it is also very inspiring and the prize definitely motivates me to finish my dissertation!