Dr. Krish Seetah

Principal Investigator


I am currently an Assistant Professor in Anthropology at Stanford University. Throughout my academic career, I have had the good fortune to work on a wide variety of sites and projects that cover the Pleistocene to modern period, and geographically span China to Slovenia. These have been fundamental to my current collaborative research on Mauritius. As PI of the MACH project my role centres on the coordination and facilitation of the detailed and systematic work of my colleagues, as well as the progression of my own specialism focused on food culture and identity as understood through faunal remains. Through this project, I am endeavouring to shed light, through the lens of archaeology, on the transition from slavery to indentured labour following abolition, the extent and diversity of trade in the region and the environmental consequences of intensive monocrop agriculture.

Dr. Diego Calaon

Site director


I received my Doctorate, entitled ‘Before Venice: lands waters and settlements: GIS tools for a comprehension of the landscape transformations between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages’ in 2006 from the Ca’Foscari University, Venice. In the same year I became a research assistant at the Department of ‘Scienze dell’Antichità e del Vicino Oriente’, carrying out research on the theme ‘The Eastern Venetia: landscape transformations between Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages’. I have directed a number of archaeological excavations in Italy, Syria, Montenegro and Mauritius. My main research interests are landscape archaeology, colonial archaeology and the development of GIS platforms for analysis of historical-territorial transformations. I have been involved in the project ‘Environmental Imperialism: Colonial Activity in Mauritius’ since 2008.

Dr. Sasa Caval

Site director


My research area focuses on the archaeology of religion, principally on the application of astronomy as a tool to understand the expression of beliefs within past cultures. I joined the project in the 2009 season.

Dr. Andrea Balbo

Environmental archaeologist


The focus of my research is the interaction between environment and people. I concentrate on climate-sensitive regions, where climate shifts greatly affect environmental and social change (particularly deserts, high latitudes and the Mediterranean). I use an interdisciplinary geoarchaeological approach including the study of soils and sediments, geomorphology, micromorphology and, more recently, modelling and simulation.

Dr. Jo Appleby

Human osteoarchaeologist


I am a human osteologist and Research Fellow in Archaeology at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. My principle research interest is in using human bones in combination with funerary evidence to investigate past lifestyles and social structure. My research to date has mostly been in the European Bronze Age, where I have worked with material from Britain and Austria. I have also recently been working with historical period human remains from Cape Verde, which provide some interesting parallels with Mauritius. For the Mauritius project I will be using skeletal evidence to investigate the health, disease and lifestyle of slaves and indentured labourers.

Dr. Helen Farr

Maritime archaeologist


I am currently a Leverhulme E. C. R. Fellow at Southampton University. My research focuses upon prehistoric submerged landscapes in the Solent, U.K. and the dynamic relationship between people and their changing environment as sea-levels rose during the Holocene. My PhD research at Cambridge University utilized obsidian analysis and palaeo-environmental reconstructions to shed new light on the exchange of raw materials, technology and ideology in order to investigate Neolithic identity, travel and seafaring in the central Mediterranean. After my PhD I worked as an AHRC Research Fellow in Cambridge, developing research on submerged prehistoric landscapes and coastal geomorphological processes as part of the Bova Marina Project. My involvement with the Mauritius Project has rekindled my interest in early seafaring and island colonization. I am particularly interested in early Indian Ocean diasporas and am currently combining maritime archaeological and palaeo-environmental approaches to help understand insularity and the development of Indian Ocean identity.

Dr. Aleks Pluskowski

Environmental archaeologist


I am a lecturer in medieval archaeology at the University of Reading. My research interests include the ecology of medieval Europe, religious conversion and colonisation. I am currently directing a project looking at the environmental impact of crusading and colonisation in the Baltic. I have been working with Mauritian archaeology since 2010 when I was involved in the excavations of Le Morne cemetery and Trianon barracks.

Dr. Emma Lightfoot

Isotope specialist


My research uses chemical analyses of human and animal remains to investigate palaeodiet, migration and palaeoclimate. I completed my Ph.D. in 2009 in the Department of Archaeology, Cambridge University, and am currently the Adrian Research Fellow at Darwin College, Cambridge University working on the ‘Food Globalisation in Prehistory’ project. For the MACH project, I am using carbon, nitrogen and oxygen isotope analyses to investigate the diet and geographic origins of individuals excavated on Mauritius.

Dr. Carine Durand

Social anthropologist


I am a social anthropologist and completed my doctorate at the University of Cambridge in 2010. Since 1998, I have conducted long-term anthropological field research crossing the boundaries of disciplines between social anthropology, education, performance studies, and art. Currently, I am a freelance museum consultant in Barcelona, Spain and a research associate with the Indigeneity in the World Project at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Dr. Rosa Fregel

Ancient DNA specialist


My research is focused on human population genetics, principally using uniparental markers (mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome). I completed my PhD in Genetics from University of La Laguna in 2010, funded by the Canarian Autonomic Government. An important part of my research is focused on the analysis of ancient population. I have participated in several projects including, among others, ancient remains from the Canary Islands aborigines (dated around 1500 – 700 years BP), Canarian slaves from the XVII century, and also Late Upper Paleolithic and Neolithic remains from the Basque Country. In addition, I have analyzed modern human populations from several places, including the Macaronesian Archipelago, the Iberian Peninsula and Africa. My role in this project is focused in the analysis of uniparental markers in human remains excavated in the several archaeological sites. Our aim is to determine the geographic origin of the Mauritius’ slave population and to establish their genetic legacy on the modern population, in order to shed light on the genetic temporal evolution of Mauritius.

Julia Jong Haines MA

Ph.D. student & field archaeologist


I received a BA in Anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2009. Over the past three years I have been working as an archaeologist on Cultural Resource Management projects around the US and on several academic research projects on Catalina Island off the coast of California, New Orleans, Senegal, and most recently, Mauritius. I am currently a graduate student at the University of Virginia, Department of Anthropology working towards my PhD. My research focuses on the archaeology of maronnage, or fugitive slaves, in Mauritius. My other interests include landscape archaeology, identity, resistance, race theory, and cultural pluralism.

Ruud Stelten MA

Field archaeologist


My interests lie in the fortifications of Mauritius. As many of these structures are under threat of being destroyed, I mainly focus on basic site recording in addition to assessing the role the forts and batteries played in the island’s defence over time. My first archaeological involvement on Mauritius was at the BRIC project, and I also regularly help out at various other sites the team is working on. Besides the MACH project, I am involved in historical archaeological research on the Caribbean island St. Eustatius, and am employed as a part-time field technician for a commercial archaeology company in the Netherlands.