Michael Toffolo

To me, Tübingen means solid research, excellent beer and lots of nature.

Michael Toffolo sees what cannot be seen by the naked eye, striving for the evidence of the early Human behavior.

Dr. Michael Toffolo

Université Bordeaux-Montaigne, IRAMAT-CRPAA Department, Archaeology
Personal Site

In Tübingen

  Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow since 01.03.2015
  Humboldt Lecture in 2015, "Tübingen Reloaded Fellow" in 2017
Host Professor Prof. Dr. Christopher E. Miller
and Institute

Institute for Archaeological Sciences

In collaboration with

Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel

This is a professional experience that I recommend to all early career scientists in my field.

Interview with Dr. Michael Toffolo

Michael Toffolo, your way brought you from Italy via France to Tübingen as a Humboldt Fellow 2015. You stated that working with Tübingen was fundamental to the succesfull outcome of your research project. Please, tell us why, and let us start to with...

What is your main research field and interest?

"Broadly speaking, my research focuses on the study of the microscopic archaeological record, everything that cannot be seen by the naked eye and therefore requires the use of instrumentation in order to characterize it.

The microscopic record includes the materials of which the macroscopic artifacts and features are made, as well as the sedimentary matrix in which they are found, and its study involves the use of analytical methods grounded in the natural sciences. Once I have obtained information from the sub-millimeter scale, I integrate it with the information from the macroscopic record (e.g. artifacts, architectures, burials, bones) to reach a better understanding of the archaeological record as a whole and thus address broad archaeological questions. I learned this approach during my university studies in Italy, USA and Israel.

More specifically, I used this approach to determine human interactions with the environment at Middle Stone Age sites in South Africa, and use of space, ecology and chronology at Iron Age urban tell sites in the Levant."

What was your first impression when you came to Tübingen?

"I arrived at the University of Tübingen in March 2015, soon after obtaining an Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellowship at the Institut für Naturwissenschaftliche Archäologie. My host was Prof. Dr. Christopher E. Miller, who did everything possible to help me settle down and to support my research.

Similarly, the Welcome Center of the University gave me useful information regarding accommodation and practical things about living in Tübingen. I entertained friendly and professional relations with colleagues at my institute and other departments."

I had the opportunity to teach two courses for master students

What were you working on while you were in Tübingen?

"During my stay at Tübingen, I developed a method for isolating aragonite formed in archaeological wood ash and measuring its radiocarbon content in order to obtain accurate age determinations. In the future, I would like to expand the use of carbonate minerals in radiocarbon dating and pursue the study of human behavioral evolution in the interior of Southern Africa."

Which was the most rewarding experience during your stay here?

"In general, there was a lot of room for interdisciplinary collaboration that eventually resulted in publications. In addition, I had the opportunity to teach two courses for master students. My research project was carried out in collaboration with the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, where I could work for 4 months thanks to a Europe Research Stay funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

This collaboration and the excellent laboratories in Tübingen were fundamental to the successful outcome of my research project. Certainly, this is a professional experience that I recommend to all early career scientists in my field."

Thank you for the Interview, Mr. Toffolo!