Short CV/Education and training

  • Since 2005
    Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at the University of Geneva. Head of the Laboratory of Prehistoric Archaeology & Anthropology

Teaching activities:

    Courses in Global Prehistory, Archaeological Research Methodology, Coordination of field training and management of field schools, European Neolithic, Theories in Prehistoric Archaeology

Student Supervision:

    Supervisor or co-supervisor for 25 PhD theses, 2 in progress, 23 finished (1 received a Latsis award)

    Supervisor or co-supervisor for 35 Master's theses (4 with award)

Director of archaeological excavations:

  • Since 2012
    Eremita at Borgosesia (Piedmont, Italy), Research excavation, several prehistoric occupations; Middle Bronze Age cremations; International Project

  • 2015 – 2016
    Pré-du-Stand at Grand-Saconnex (Geneva, Switzerland), Rescue excavation, Neolithic, Bell Beaker Culture, Bronze Age and Iron Age occupations

  • 2006 – 2007
    Crédery at Choully (Geneva, Switzerland), Rescue excavation, Final Neolithic occupation site

  • 1992
    Petit-Chasseur at Sion (Valais, Switzerland), Rescue excavation, La Tène graves and Middle Neolithic occupation

  • 1990
    Dersbachstrasse at Hünenberg-Chämleten (Zoug, Switzerland), Rescue excavation, Final Neolithic occupation (Horgen)

Selected publications

Selected publications, peer-review journals, past 2 years only:

  • Abegg Cl., Desideri J. Dutour O., Besse M. 2021. More than the sum of their parts: reconstituting the paleopathological profile of the individual and commingled Neolithic populations of Western Switzerland. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 13, 59.

  • Besse M., Piguet M., Carbone A., Henry A., Girardclos S., Debard J., Hofstetter T., Bystritzsky-Papilloud A., Steimer T., 2021. Funerals during the Second Iron Age: A newly discovered sepulchral ensemble reveals practices in Western Switzerland (Pré-du-Stand, Geneva). Journal of Anthropological and Archaeological Sciences, 4, 5, 562-586.

  • Carloni D., Šegvić B., Sartori M., Zanoni G., Moscariello A., Besse M. 2021. Raw material choices and material characterization of the 3rd and 2ndmillennium BC pottery from the Petit-Chasseur necropolis: Insights into the megalith-erecting society of the Upper Rhône Valley, Switzerland. Geoarchaeology, 36, 1009-1044.

  • Varalli A., Desideri J., David-Elbiali M., Goude G., Honegger M., Besse M. 2021. Bronze Age innovations and impact on human diet: A multi-isotopic and multi-proxy study of western Switzerland. PLoS ONE 16(1): e0245726.

  • Bleasdale M., Richter K.K., Janzen A., Brown S., Scott A., Jana Zech J., Wilkin S., Wang K., Schiffels S., Desideri J., Besse M., Reinold J., Saad M., Babiker H., Power R.C., Ndiema E., Ogola C., Manthi F. K., Zahir M., Petraglia M., Trachsel C., Nanni P., Grossmann J., Hendy J., Crowther A., Roberts P., Goldstein S.T., Boivin N., 2021. Ancient proteins provide evidence of dairy consumption in eastern Africa. Nature communication, 12, 632.

  • Cousseau F., Nicholls J., Besse M., 2020. Discovery of a multi-chambered long cairn at Goasseac’h, Carhaix-Plouguer, central Brittany, France. Antiquity, 94, 378, 1-8.

  • Abegg Cl., Dutour O., Desideri J., Besse M., 2020. Cases of serpens endocrania symmetrica in juveniles from neolithic Western Switzerland: description and interpretation. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 1-9.

  • Derenne E., Ard V., Besse M. 2020. Pottery technology as a revealer of cultural and symbolic shifts: Funerary and ritual practices in the Sion ‘Petit-Chasseur’ megalithic necropolis (3100-1600 BC, Western Switzerland), Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.

  • Carloni D., Derenne E., Piguet M., Besse M., 2020. The ceramic assemblages of the Upper Rhône valley from the Final Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age (3200-1600 BCE): radiocarbon dating, regional chronological sequence, and typology. Archives des Sciences, 71, 45-94.

  • Luret M., Burke A., Bernaldo de Quiros F., Besse M. 2020, El Castillo cave (Cantabria, Spain): archeozoological comparison between the Mousterian occupation level (level 20) and the “Aurignacien de transition de type El Castillo 18B” (level 18). Journal of Archaeological Science: Report, 31, 102339.

Complete list of publications

Selected projects

  • Prehistory in the Alps: Excavation of the Eremita Cave, Piedmont, Italy

    → Excavation of the Eremita cave, Middle Bronze Age occupation, around 1600 BC, since 2012

  • SNSF Prehistoric pottery in the Alps: Social organisation in the upper Rhone valley during the final neolithic, the bell beaker culture and the early bronze age, 2017 – 2021

    → We propose a multifaced research programme focusing on pottery assemblages dated from the Final Neolithic through the Bell Beaker Culture to the Early Bronze Age. Ceramic material stemming from the Upper Rhone Vally in SW Switzerland will form the main study material for this project, and will be studied following four mutually interrelated lines of inquiry : typological, technological, raw material choices and functions

  • Bell Beaker Culture and prehistoric societies in Europe

    → The end of the Neolithic era in Occidental Europe and Northern Africa is characterised by the presence of a very homogeneous ceramic type – the bell beaker. As determining elements of the Bell Beaker culture, these beakers in the shape of inversed bells (hence the name), decorated with geometric patterns, are found in well-defined natural and cultural contexts. Although homogeneous at first glance, the Bell Beaker culture does not reveal a centralised production sites for these richly decorated ceramics. It does not reflect an economic network, nor a single group of people. As a complex culture, the Bell Beaker phenomenon must be studied in the diversity of its cultural components and in the difference of its transfer mechanisms.

  • SNSF Subsistence strategies and paleoenvironmental context of the last Neanderthals and the first modern human populations: a taphonomic study of the fauna from El Castillo cave (Spain), 2013 – 2016

  • SNSF Complex chaîne opératoire in the Levant: lithic technology of the Yabrudian, 2012 – 2014

  • SNSF The Middle Neolithic in the Jura Mountains (4200 – 3600 BC): ceramic cultures definition, 2009 – 2012

  • SNSF The European Chalcolithic: Pottery, Copper and History of Peopling, 2004 – 2008

  • SNSF L’Europe du 3e millénaire avant notre ère : des faits archéologiques à l’interprétation du peuplement, 2003 – 2006

Membership in scientific bodies/juries

  • SNSF – Regular commissions member to attribute grants for PhDs, postdocs, Ambizione program...

  • NCN – National Research Agency of Poland, Evaluation Committee of the research program and projects, 2020 – 2021

  • UISPP – International Union for the Prehistoric Sciences, member of the commission "Neolithic Civilizations of the Mediterranean and Europe", since 2014

  • Archéologie suisse, member of the scientific committee, president, 2012 – 2016

  • CNRA – Conseil National de la Recherche en Archéologie, Paris, member of the scientific committee, nominated by the Ministry of Culture, since 2020

  • Université Paris 1 Panthéon – La Sorbonne, member of the scientific Committee for doctoral training school, 2012 – 2016

  • Conseil scientifique de l'INRAP-Paris, French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research Paris (France), member of the scientific committee, nominated by the Ministry of Research and Education, 2011 – 2017

  • Conseil scientifique du RN-MSH, Paris (France), nominated by the Ministry of Research and Education, 2009 – 2014

  • CUSO – Conférence universitaire de Suisse occidentale, Commission for Archaeology (CBA), president, since 2008

  • Les Alpes de la Préhistoire à l'Antiquité, member of the scientific Committee, Aoste (Italy), since 2003

  • Internéo – Association pour les recherches interrégionales sur le Néolithique, Paris, member of the administrative Committee, President 2012 – 2018, member since 2001

  • Archéologie et gobelets, association for the promotion of research and dissemination of knowledge on the Bell-Beaker culture, president, since 1996

Soft Skills/Other activities and achievements

Soft Skills

  • Mentoring: state of mind is very important to conduct good research. I make sure my students are equipped with the proper skills and knowledge to conduct their research, but I also make sure they possess the soft skills necessary to do so in good environment and optimal state of mind.

  • Team management: as a head of lab and head of fieldwork, I have developed the ability to manage people and take into account their individuality whilst making sure the research goals are reached.

Other activities and achievements/family

  • For the wider public: SNSF Agora – Valentina and Leo: everyday life in prehistoric times, 2013 – 2015


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