Centre for Early Sapiens behaviour (SapienCE)

The SapienCE Centre of Excellence

Over the next decade, the SapienCE Centre of Excellence will consolidate UiB and Norway's position as a world leader in early human origins research.

Centre for early sapines behaviour
Craig Foster/Magnus M. Haaland

Main content

Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour (SapienCE) is a Centre of Excellence (CoE) established in 2017, funded by the Norwegian Research Council. The centre is built around a team of international scientists specialized in the fields of archaeology, psychology and climatology, led by Professor Christopher Stuart Henshilwood.

The Scope

The SapienCE team has exclusive access to Blombos Cave, Klasies River main site and the Klipdrift Complex; sites that contain the key for unlocking the past. The unique location of sites dated to between 120 000 and 50 000 years ago on the southern Cape coast, South Africa. A region known to be particularly sensitive to regional and global climatic forces, and therefore ideally placed for research into the marine and terrestrial environments utilized by Homo sapiens.

Holistic approach

Our carefully selected research teams are carrying out investigations of two new and three existing Middle Stone Age archaeological sites by looking in detail at the evidence, layer by layer, site by site. This will permit the unprecedented integration of securely-dated, high-resolution records of early human cultural, social, technological and subsistence behaviours with global, regional and site-based palaeoenvironmental information. With this holistic approach, SapienCE will provide groundbreaking insight into the diverse aspects of what it means to be human.

Worldwide collaboration

SapienCE has a complex structure with many partners and a Leader Group with PI's and senior researchers. The Leader Group reports to the Board. SapienCE also benefits from advice from the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). The centre is collaborating closely with the University of the Witwatersrand, NORCE, Royal Holloway University of London, Université de Bordeaux and Universität Tübingen.

SapienCE is part of the Research Council of Norway's Centres of Excellence (CoE) scheme. The scheme organizes the activities of Norway’s foremost scientific circles in centres to achieve ambitious scientific objectives through collaboration and long-term basic funding.