The Project

Welcome to the website of the Mauritian Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (MACH) project. The geographic focus on Mauritius is an important one. Modern Mauritius had its naissance in 1721 when a group of French colonists from Reunion established the first French settlement on the island. Its strategic position made it the focus of successive waves of colonising powers all of whom left their material markers. Despite this, there has been limited examination based on systematic methods-driven archaeology addressing the islands role as a colonial enclave. It was an important trading post between the Spice Islands and Europe and became a long-term colony with European, African and Indo-Chinese influence. As a volcanic island lacking any indigenous population it also presents an exceptional opportunity to establish baseline data detailing specific environmental conditions within the Indian Ocean.


The main aim of this project is to understand how European colonial activity influenced environmental and cultural transformations in this region of the Indian Ocean. Specific locations, incorporating slave, indentured and Imperial sites, as well as those with high eco-archaeological potential, have provided key case studies to address this and allied aims.


Our work, funded principally by the British Academy, British Council and McDonald Institute, is being conducted in collaboration with, and supported by, local partners including the National Heritage Fund, University of Mauritius, Truth & Justice Commission and both of the island’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Aapravasi Ghat and Le Morne Cultural Landscape.

Website created by Ruud Stelten (email:

What's new

Coming soon: 20/05/2013 The project will be one of only five showcased as part of the Society of Antiquaries of London's new Public Lecture Series! Click: here for further information.

28/07/2012 The second campaign at Bois Marchand was enthusiastically undertaken on the 16th of July. The team undertook a longer programme of excavation, extending the scope of the previous site. Click here for pictures and further information.

10/6/2011 The Canary Islands meeting from 25th - 28th May was a great success. Many ideas for the 'Islands Around Africa' project were put forward, and several research themes agreed upon. Click here for pictures and further information.