Dr. Francesco Berna

BSc, PhD (University of Florence, Italy); Post Doc (Weizmann Institute of Science-Israel)
Tel: 778.782.9674 • Fax: 778.782.5666 • Email: francesco_berna@sfu.ca


General Resesarch Interests

Origin of modern behaviour, archaeology of fire, ancient pyrotechnologies, use of space, site formation processes.

Excavation and Field Work

Francesco Berna is currently involved in excavation and field work at the Early Stone Age sites of Wonderwork cave and Bestwood farm in Northern Cape Province, South Africa, the Middle Paleolithic site of Manot Cave in the Western Galilee and the Final Pre-Pottery Neolithic site of Beisamoun in the Upper Jordan Valley. In addition, as geoarchaeologist and expert of Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy applied to archaeological investigations, his work contributed and is contributing to several important issues in Old and New World Archaeology. These include: The origin of modern behavior, the onset of the controlled use of fire during the Lower and Middle Paleolithic in South Africa, Europe, and the Middle East; dating the earliest out-of-Africa evidence of Homo erectus at Dmanisi and the earliest North American occupation in Oregon; the study of domestic and industrial pyrotechnological activities in Maya, Roman, Egyptian, Iron and Bronze Age and Neolithic sites; the reconstruction of site formation processes at several historical sites in New England.


  • Marie Curie Outgoing International (OIF) Individual Fellowship, 2006-09
  • E.U. Marie Curie Individual Fellowship, 2001-03

Selected Recent Publications

  • Berna F., Goldberg P., Kolska Horwitz L., Brink J., Holt S., Bamford M., Chazan M. 2012. Microstratigraphic evidence of in situ fire in the Acheulean strata of Wonderwerk Cave, Northern Cape province, South Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 109 (20) E1215-E1220.
  • Chazan M., Wilkins J., Morris D., Berna F. (2012) “Bestwood 1: A Newly Discovered Earlier Stone Age Living Surface Near Kathu, Northern Cape Province, South Africa” Antiquity 86 – 331 – March 2012 Project Gallery
  • Simms S., Berna F., Bey III G. (2012) "A prehispanic Maya pit oven? Microanalysis of fired clay balls from the Puuc region, Yuctatan, Mexico" Journal of Archaeological Science 40 (2): 1144-1157
  • Poduska K.M., Regev L., Berna F., Mintz E., Milevski I., Khalaily H., Weiner S., Boaretto E. (2012) “Plaster characterization at the PPNB site of Yiftahel (Israel) including the use of  14C: implications for plaster production, preservation and dating” Radiocarbon 54 (3-4) : 887-896
  • Wadley L., Sievers C., Bamford M., Goldberg P., Berna F., Miller C. 2011. Middle Stone Age bedding construction and settlement patterns at Sibudu, South Africa. Science, 334: 1388-1391.
  • Ferring R., Oms O., Augusti J., Berna F., Nioradze M., Shelia T., Tappen M., Vekua A., Zhvania D., and Lordkipanidze D. 2011. Earliest human occupations at Dmanisi (Georgian Caucasus) dated to 1.85-1.78 Ma. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 108: 10432-10436.
  • Berna F. “Bone alteration and diagenesis” (2010). In: Scientific Methods and Cultural Heritage. An Introduction to the Application of Materials Science to Archaeometry and Conservation Science (G. Artioli), Oxford University Press, Oxford, 364-367
  • Goldberg P., Berna F., and Macphail R.I. 2009. Comment on DNA from Pre-Clovis Human Coprolites in Oregon, North America. Science, 325: 148b-148c.
  • Berna F. and Goldberg P. 2007. Assessing Paleolithic pyrotechnology and associated hominin behavior in Israel. Israel Journal of Earth Sciences, 56: 107-121.
  • Berna F., Behar A., Shahack-Gross R., Berg J., Zorn J., Boaretto E., Gilboa A., Sharon I., Shalev S., Silshtein S., and Weiner S. 2007. Sediments Exposed to High Temperatures: Reconstructing Pyrotechnological Practices in Late Bronze and Iron Age Strata at Tel Dor (Israel). Journal of Archaeological Science, 34: 358-373.
  • Berna F., Matthews A., and Weiner S. 2004. Solubilities of Bone Mineral from Archaeological Sites: the Recrystallization Window. Journal of Archaeological Science, 31: 867-882.

More information on Dr. Berna can be found on his personal web site.