• E-mailSilje.Bentsen@uib.no
  • Phone+47 55 58 22 02
  • Visitor Address
    Sydnesplassen 12/13
  • Postal Address
    Postboks 7805
    5020 Bergen

I am a postdoctoral research fellow in experimental archaeology and material culture at SapienCE, where I work with PI's Karen van Niekerk and Professor Christopher Henshilwood. My principal research interest is the use of fire among early modern humans and I am currently researching how heat affects ostrich eggshell and rocks. Furthermore, I am studying human culinary technology, i.e., how the food was processed and potential cooking vessels between 60 000 and 120 000 years ago.

Fire and the pyrotechnology of the stone age have been my main focus since I studied for my MA in archaeology at the University of Oslo (supervisor: Sheila Coulson). I used spatial analysis and the theory of structuration to examine how social structure can be understood through the density of material around the hearth. The analysis was based on material from the French Magdalenian (approximately 12 000 years ago). The actual hearth and how heat affects artefacts, sediments and stratigraphy were at the core of my PhD (2014) at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, South Africa. I analysed 60 000 year old material from the Middle Stone Age layers of Sibudu Cave under the supervision of Lyn Wadley. I used experimental archaeology to examine the development of temperatures in a campfire and the effort required to control the fire, as well as formation processes and the contents of selected combustion features. 

From 2014 I held two postdoctoral research fellowships at Wits, working with Sarah Wurz at Klasies River main site in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. We excavated, among other things, potentially heated quartzite, leading to my experiments heating locally-sourced quartzite and subsequent colour changes using digital image analysis. I was also managing digital documentation, GIS and databases during the field seasons.


Selected publications
  • Bentsen, Silje Evjenth; Wurz, Sarah Jacoba Deborah. 2019. Color Me Heated? A Comparison of Potential Methods to Quantify Color Change in Thermally-Altered Rocks. Journal of Field Archaeology. 44: 215-233. doi: 10.1080/00934690.2019.1591092
  • Bentsen, Silje Evjenth. 2012. Size matters: Preliminary results from an experimental approach to interpret Middle Stone Age hearths. Quaternary International. 270.
  • Bentsen, Silje Evjenth. 2013. CONTROLLING THE HEAT: AN EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH TO MIDDLE STONE AGE PYROTECHNOLOGY. South African Archaeological Bulletin. 68: 137-145.
  • Bentsen, Silje Evjenth. 2014. Using Pyrotechnology: Fire-related Features and Activities with a Focus on the African Middle Stone Age. Journal of Archaeological Research. 22.
  • Bentsen, Silje Evjenth. 2015. By the Campfire: Pyrotechnology and Middle Stone Age Hearths at Sibudu Cave. Azania.
  • Bentsen, Silje Evjenth. 2016. Stekepannen, bålet og kniven kan ha vært med på å forme utseendet til menneskene. Aftenposten Vitenskap.
  • Bentsen, Silje Evjenth. 2017. This Time for Africa: African Conference on Experimental Archaeology (ACE) 2018. EXARC Journal.
  • Bentsen, Silje Evjenth; Wurz, Sarah Jacoba Deborah. 2017. Towards a better understanding of cooking techniques in the African Middle Stone Age. Primitive tider. 19: 101-114.
  • Wurz, Sarah Jacoba Deborah; Bentsen, Silje Evjenth; Reynard, Jerome; Van Pletzen-Vos, Liezl; Brenner, Mareike; Mentzer, Susan; Pickering, Robyn; Green, Helen. 2018. Connections, culture and environments around 100?000 years ago at Klasies River main site. Quaternary International. 495: 102-115. doi: 10.1016/j.quaint.2018.03.039
  • Spangen, Marte; Bentsen, Silje Evjenth; Wurz, Sarah Jacoba Deborah. 2018. Arkeologi på rappen 1-3: Silje Evjenth Bentsen og Sarah Wurz om matlaging for 120.000 år siden.

Science communication in social media has been and is a favourite activity for me. At the moment, I irregularly update my Norwegian research blog at .https://blogg.forskning.no/blogg-fyr-og-flamme-silje-evjenth-berntsen. I have, however, been more active on other platforms and have, for example, created and maintained the Klasies River project on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/KlasiesRiver/), Twitter (https://twitter.com/KlasiesRiver) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/klasiesriver/). 

Are you interested in experimental archaeology or fire use? I am available as a supervisor for new projects. Please contact me for more information.