|Drilling Neolithic pottery from Stonehenge|
Geoarchaeology was the logical next step, applying the methods and theories of geosciences to archaeological questions, and I did my MSc in this subject at the University of Reading, funded by NERC. My PhD was undertaken jointly in Chemistry and Archaeology, developing an integrated method that combined microscopic analysis of sediments with organic geochemical characterisation. This method enabled me to reconstruct the formation processes of incredibly complex ashy midden deposits at Catalhoyuk, a Neolithic settlement and World Heritage Site in Turkey, and to decipher signals of human activity and changing use of fuel resources. It's amazing what you can learn from rubbish. I ended up being a bit of an expert in coprolites too - the middens at Catalhoyuk are full of them, so I couldn't really avoid it. It's also amazing what you can learn from ancient poop.
Despite moving from geography to archaeology, my interests have remained the same - the dynamic relationship between people and their environment. How has the environment changed in the past, and what influence has this had on the development of human societies? Conversely, how have humans shaped the landscapes they inhabit? My research brings together aspects of geography, anthropology and archaeology to investigate human-environment relationships in the past, and how we can use the deep-time perspectives of archaeology to inform present day responses to environmental change. I am a lecturer in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Newcastle University. I teach in the areas of environmental archaeology and archaeological science, and run a field school at the Ness of Brodgar in Orkney in collaboration with ORCA, where students are able to take part in the research process of doing environmental archaeology in the field.
For more on my professional background, check out my research profiles:
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