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Katerina Douka

Dr Katerina Douka

Visiting Academic; William Golding Research Fellow Brasenose College

Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art
Dyson Perrins Building, South Parks Rd, Oxford, OX1 3QY

Tel: +44 (0)1865 285225

Fax: +44 (0)1865 285220

E-mail: katerina.douka@rlaha.ox.ac.uk

Research Interests

My research revolves around the construction of robust chronologies for prehistoric sites using advanced radiocarbon dating and Bayesian methods. I am particularly interested in resolving the timing, nature and palaeoclimatic background of prehistoric  population movements, such as the dispersal of the first modern humans out of Africa and into Eurasia, the appearance of the Gravettian culture in Europe, and the spread of farming across the eastern Mediterranean, several millennia later.  I am also interested in refining the dating of Neanderthal extinction.
Dating old samples is very challenging and I maintain an interest in the development of pretreatment and screening protocols aiming at better cleaning and characterizing bone, shell and charcoal samples prior to AMS radiocarbon dating.
Aspects of my work also touch upon the adaptation of hominids to marine environments as reflected by the exploitation of shellfish and the seasonal nature of such activities (based on growth-ring and isotopic studies of shell middens) and the appearance of personal ornamentation, especially shell beads, during the Palaeolithic.

Current Projects

I am the Principal Investigator of a 5-year (2017-2022, €2M) ERC Starting grant focusing on the discovery of new Denisovan and Neanderthal fossils from Pleistocene Asia. The grant is based at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany http://www.shh.mpg.de/en

PalaeoChron Project "Precision dating of the Palaeolithic, chronological mapping of the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic of Eurasia". European Research Council Advanced Grant (Postdoctoral researcher 2013-2017).

“Construction of a new chronological framework for the start of the Neolithic in the Aegean”. OU Fell Fund and British School at Athens (Principal Investigator, 2013-19).

Geographic Areas

Europe, North Africa and the Near East, Russia and Siberia, Southeast Asia.


Journal Articles & Conference Proceedings


Douka, K., Higham, T. 2017. The chronological factor in understanding the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic of Eurasia. Current Anthropology 58(S17): S480-S490. link

Bae, C., Douka, K., Petraglia, M. 2017. On the origin of modern humans: Asian Perspectives. Science 358, 1269. link

Bae, C., Douka, K., Petraglia, M. 2017 (Eds) Human Colonization of Asia in the Late Pleistocene. Current Anthropology Special Issue 58(S17) Full issue link

Douka, K. Radiocarbon dating of marine and terrestrial shell, in Allen, M.J. (ed) Molluscs in Archaeology: methods, approaches and applications. Studying Scientific Archaeology 3. Oxbow Books, pp. 381-389.

Douka, K., Efstratiou, N., Hald, M., Henriksen, P., & Karetsou, A. 2017. Dating Knossos and the arrival of the earliest Neolithic in the southern Aegean. Antiquity 91(356): 304-321. link pdf

Douka, K., Slon, V., Stringer, C., Potts, R., Hübner, A., Meyer, M., Spoor, F., Pääbo, S. & Higham, T. 2017. Direct radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis of the Darra-i-Kur (Afghanistan) human temporal bone. Journal of Human Evolution 107: 86-93. link pdf

Becerra-Valdivia, L., Douka, K., Comeskey, D., Bazgir, B., Conard, N. J., Marean, C. W., Ollé, A., Otte, M., Tumung, L., Zeidi, M. & Higham, T.F.G. 2017. Chronometric investigations of the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition in the Zagros Mountains using AMS radiocarbon dating and Bayesian age modelling. Journal of Human Evolution 109: 57–69. link

Bazgir, B., Ollé, A., Tumung, L., Becerra-Valdivia, L., Douka, K., Higham, T., van der Made, J., Picin, A., Saladié, P., López-Garcí­a, J.M., Blain, H.-Al., Allué, E., Fernández-Garcí­a, M., Rey-Rodríguez, I., Arceredillo, D., Bahrololoumi, F., Azimi, M., Otte, M. & Carbonell, E. 2017. Understanding the emergence of modern humans and the disappearance of Neanderthals: Insights from Kaldar Cave (Khorramabad Valley, Western Iran). Scientific Reports 7: 43460. link pdf

Proctor, C., Douka, K., Proctor, J.W., Higham, T. 2017. The Age and Context of the KC4 Maxilla, Kent’s Cavern, UK. European Journal of Archaeology 20(1): 74–97. link pdf


Brown, S., Higham, T., Slon, V., Pääbo, S., Meyer, M., Douka, K., Brock, F., Comeskey, D., Procopio, N., Shunkov, M., Derevianko, A., Buckley, M. 2016. Identification of a new hominin bone from Denisova Cave, Siberia using collagen fingerprinting and mitochondrial DNA analysis. Scientific Reports 6: 23559. link pdf

Álvarez-Fernández, E. Álvarez-Alonso, D., Bécares, J., Carral, P., Carriol, R.P. Chauvin, A., Cubas, M., Cueto, M., Domingo, R., Douka, K., Elorza, M., Jordá-Pardo, J.F., Murelaga, X., Portero, R., Rivero, O., Tapia, J., Tarriño, A., Teira, L.C. 2016. Nouvelles données sur le Magdalénien inférieur de la Région Cantabrique: le Niveau F de la grotte de El Cierro (Ribadesella, Asturies, Espagne). L’Anthropologie 120 (5): 537-567. link

Willmes, M., Grün, R., Douka, K., Michel, V., Armstrong, R.A., Benson, A., Crégut-Bonnoure, E., Desclaux, E., Fang Fang, Kinsley, L., Saos, T., Defleur. A.R. 2016. A comprehensive chronology of the Neanderthal site Moula-Guercy, Ardèche, France. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 9: 309–319. link

Crowther, A., Lucas, L., Helm, R., Horton, M., Shipton, C., Wright, H. T., Walshaw, S., Pawlowicz, M., Radimilahy, C., Douka, K., Picornell-Gelabert, L., Fuller, D. Q (傅稻镰), Boivin, N.L. 2016. Ancient Crops Provide First Archaeological Signature of the Westward Austronesian Expansion. PNAS USA  113 (24): 6635–6640. link

Crowther, A., Faulkner, P., Prendergast, M.E., Quintana Morales, E.M., Horton, M., Wilmsen, E., Kotarba-Morley, A.M., Christie, A., Petek, N., Tibesasa, R., Douka, K., Picornell-Gelabert, L., Carah, X., Boivin, N. 2016. Coastal subsistence, maritime trade, and the colonization of small offshore islands in Eastern African prehistory. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology 11(2):211–237. link

Macario, K.D., Alves, E.Q., Chanca, I.S., Oliveira, F.M., Carvalho, C., Souza, R., Aguilera, O., Tenório, M.E., Rapagnã, L.C., Douka, K., Silva, E. 2016. The Usiminas shellmound on the Cabo Frio Island: Marine reservoir effect in an upwelling region on the coast of Brazil. Quaternary Geochronology 35: 36–42. link

Soubrier, J., Gower, G., Chen, K., Richards, S.M., …, Douka, K., … Shapiro, B., Cooper, A. 2016. Early cave art and ancient DNA record the origin of European bison. Nature Communications 7: 13158. link

Shipton C, Crowther A, Prendergast ME, Kourampas N, Horton M, Douka K., Schwenninger, J-L, Faulkner, P., Quintana Morales, E.M., Langley, M.C., Tibesasa, R., Picornell-Gelabert, L., Wilmsen, E.N., Doherty, C., Veall, M., Ali, A. K., Petraglia. M. D., Boivin, N. 2016. Reinvestigation of Kuumbi Cave, Zanzibar, reveals Later Stone Age coastal habitation, early Holocene abandonment, and Iron Age reoccupation. Azania51(2), 197-233. link

Palkopoulou, E., Baca, M., Abramson, N. I., Sablin, M., Socha, P., Nadachowski, A., Prost, S., Germonpré, M., Kosintsev, P., Smirnov, N. G., Vartanyan, S., Ponomarev, D., Nyström, J., Nikolskiy, P., Jass, C. N., Litvinov, Y. N., Kalthoff, D. C., Grigoriev, S., Fadeeva, T., Douka, A., Higham, T. F.G., Ersmark, E., Pitulko, V., Pavlova, E., Stewart, J. R., Węgleński, P., Stankovic, A., Dalén, L. 2016. Synchronous genetic turnovers across Western Eurasia in Late Pleistocene collared lemmings. Global Change Biology 22 (5), 1710–1721. link


Douka, K., Higham, T.F.G, Bergman, C.A. 2015. Statistical and archaeological errors invalidate the proposed chronology for the site of Ksar Akil. PNAS USA 112 (51): E7034. link & pdf

Higham, C.F.W., Douka, K., Higham, T.F.G. 2015. A New Chronology for the Bronze Age of Northeastern Thailand and Its Implications for Southeast Asian Prehistory. PLoS ONE 10(9): e0137542. link

Villa, P., Pollarolo, L., Degano, I., Birolo, L., Pasero, M., Biagioni, C., Douka, K., Vinciguerra, R., Lucejko, J.J., Wadley, L. 2015. A Milk and Ochre Paint Mixture Used 49,000 Years Ago at Sibudu, South Africa. PLoS ONE 10(6): e0131273. link

Kourampas, N., Shipton, C., Mills, W., Tibesasa, R., Horton, H., Horton, M., Prendergast, M., Crowther, A., Douka, K., Faulkner, P., Picornell, L., Boivin, N. 2015. Late Quaternary speleogenesis and landscape evolution in a tropical carbonate island: Pango la Kuumbi (Kuumbi Cave), Zanzibar. International Journal of Speleology 44: 293-314. link


Gavrilov, K.N., Voskresenskaya E.V., Maschenko, E.N., Douka, K. 2015. East Gravettian Khotylevo 2 site: Stratigraphy, archeozoology, and spatial organization of the cultural layer at the newly explored area of the site. Quaternary International 359–360, 335–346. link

Macario, K.D., Souza, R.C.C.L., Aguilera, O.A., Carvalho, C., Oliveira, F.M., Alves, E.Q., Chanca, I.S., Silva, E.P., Douka, K., Decco, J., Trindade, D.C., Marques, A.N., Anjos, R.M., Pamplona, F.C. 2015. Marine reservoir effect on the Southeastern coast of Brazil: results from the Tarioba shellmound paired samples. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 143: 14-19. link


Douka, K., Higham, T.F.G., Wood, R., Boscato, P., Gambassini, P., Karkanas, P., Peresani, M., Ronchitelli, A. 2014. On the chronology of the Uluzzian. Journal of Human Evolution 68, 1-13.

Douka, K., Grün, R., Jacobs, Z., Lane, C., Farr, L., Hunt, C., Inglis, R.H., Reynolds, T., Albert, P., Aubert, M., Cullen, V., Hill, E., Kinsley, L., Roberts, R.G., Tomlinson, E.L., Wulf, S., Barker, G. 2014. The chronostratigraphy of the Haua Fteah cave (Cyrenaica, northeast Libya). Journal of Human Evolution66, 39–63.

Higham, T.F.G., Douka, K., Wood, R., Bronk Ramsey, C., Brock, F., (...), Pinhasi, R. and Jacobi, R. 2014. The timing and spatio-temporal patterning of Neanderthal disappearance. Nature 512, 306–309.

Fu Q., Li H., Moorjani P., Jay F., Slepchenko S.M., Bondarev A.A., (…), Douka, K., Higham T.F.G., Slatkin M., Hublin J.J., Reich D., Kelso J., Viola T.B., Pääbo S. 2014. Genome sequence of a 45,000-year-old modern human from western Siberia. Nature 514, 445-450.

Ronchitelli, A., Benazzi, S., Boscato, P., Douka, K., Moroni, A. 2014. Comments on “Human-climate interaction during the Early Upper Paleolithic: Testing the hypothesis of an adaptive shift between the Proto-Aurignacian and the Early Aurignacian” by William E. Banks, Francesco d'Errico, João Zilhão. Journal of Human Evolution 73, 107-111.


Douka, K., Bergman, C.A., Hedges, R.E.M., Wesselingh, F.P., Higham, T.F.G, (2013), Chronology of Ksar Akil (Lebanon) and implications for the colonization of Europe by anatomically modern human, PLoS ONE, 8(9): e72931.

Douka, K., Exploring “the great wilderness of prehistory”: The chronology of the Middle to the Upper Palaeolithic transition in the northern Levant. Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Urgeschichte 22, 11–40.


Douka, K. and Spinapoliche, E., (2012), Neanderthal shell tool production: Evidence from Italy and Greece, Journal of World Prehistory, 25 (2),45-79.

Douka, K., Grimaldi, S., Boschian, G., del Lucchese, A., Higham, T.F.G, (2012), A new chronostratigraphic framework for the Upper Palaeolithic of Riparo Mochi (Italy), Journal of Human Evolution, 62,286-299.

Wood, R.E., Douka, K., Boscato, P., Haesaerts, P., Sinitsyn, A and Higham, T.F.G., (2012), Testing the ABOx-SC method: dating known age charcoals associated with the Campanian Ignimbrite, Quaternary Geochronology, 9,16-26.


Benazzi, S., Douka, K., Fornai, C., Bauer, C.C., Kullmer, O., Svoboda, J., Pap, I., Mallegni, F., Bayle, P., Coquerelle, M., Condemi, S., Ronchitelli, A., Harvati, K. and Weber, G.W., (2011), Early dispersal of modern humans in Europe and implications for Neanderthal behaviour, Nature, 479,525-528.

Douka, K.,  An Upper Palaeolithic shell scraper from Ksar Akil (Lebanon), Journal of Archaeological Science, 38 (2), 429-437.

Douka, K., Perlès, C., Valladas, H., Vanhaeren, M., Hedges, R.E.M., (2011), Franchthi Cave revisited: the age of the Aurignacian in south-eastern Europe, Antiquity, 85 (330), 1131-1150.

Higham, C., Higham, T., Ciarla, R., Douka, K., Kijngam, A., Rispoli, F., (2011), The Origins of the Bronze Age of Southeast Asia, Journal of World Prehistory, 24 (4),227-274.


Barker, G., Antoniadou, A., Armitage, S., Brooks, I., Candy, I., Connell, K., Douka, K., Drake, N., Farr, L., Hill, E., Hunt, C., Inglish, R., Jones, S., Lane, C., Luccharini, G., Meneely, J., Morales, J., Mutri, G., Prendergast, A., Rabett, R., Reade, H., Reynolds, T., Russell, N., Simpson, D., Smith, B., Stimpson, C, Twati, M. and White K., (2010), The Cyrenaican Prehistory Project 2010: the fourth season of investigations of the Haua Fteah cave and its landscape, and further results from the 2007-2009 fieldwork, Libyan Studies, 41,63-88.

Douka, K., Hedges, R.E.M. and Higham, T.F.G, (2010), Improved AMS 14C dating of shell carbonates using high-precision X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) and a novel density separation protocol (CarDS)., Radiocarbon, 52 (2-3),735-751.

Douka, K., Higham, T. & Sinitsyn, A., (2010), The influence of pretreatment chemistry on the radiocarbon dating of Campanian Ignimbrite-aged charcoal from Kostenki 14 (Russia), Quaternary Research, 73,583-587.

Douka, K., Higham, T.F.G., Hedges R.E.M. , (2010), Radiocarbon dating of shell carbonates: old problems and new solutions, Munibe.Suplemento, 31,18-27.

Russo, C.M, Tripp, J.A., Douka, K. and Higham T.F.G., (2010), A new radiocarbon pretreatment method for molluscan shell using density fractionation of carbonates in bromoform, Radiocarbon, 52 (2-3),1301-1311.

Zilhão, J., Angelucci, D.E., Badal-García, E., d'Errico, F., Daniel, F., Dayet, L., Douka, K., Higham, T.F.G., Martínez-Sánchez, M.J., Montes-Bernárdez, R., Murcia-Mascarós, S., Pérez-Sirvent, C., Roldán-García, C., Vanhaeren, M., Villaverde, V., Wood, R. & Zapata, L., (2010), Symbolic use of marine shells and mineral pigments by Iberian Neandertals, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA.


Higham, T.F.G., Brock, F., Peresani, M., Broglio, A., Wood, R. & Douka, K., (2009), Problems with radiocarbon dating the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition in Italy, Quaternary Science Reviews, 28,1257-1267.


Douka K. & Higham T.F.G., (2006), Assessing the seasonal factor of Neanderthal occupation through shell growth ring analysis: evidence from Gibraltar, The Archaeo+Malacology Group Newsletter, 10.

Contributions to Edited Books


Douka K. and Higham T.F.G., (2012), Marine resource exploitation and the seasonal factor of Neanderthal occupation: evidence from Gibraltar: in “Barton, R.N.E., Finlayson, C., Stringer, C.B. (Eds), Gibraltar Neanderthals in Context. A report of the 1995-98 excavations at Gorham’s & Vanguard Caves, Gibraltar”, pp 266-276, Oxford University School of Archaeology: Monograph 75.

Higham, T.F.G., Bronk Ramsey, C., Cheney, H., Brock,, F, & Douka, K., (2012), Radiocarbon chronology of Gorham's Cave: in “Gibraltar Neanderthals in Context. A report of the 1995-98 excavations at Gorham’s & Vanguard Caves, Gibraltar (eds.) Barton, R.N.E., Finlayson, C., Stringer, C.B.”, pp 62-76, Oxford University School of Archaeology: Monograph 75.


Douka K., The contribution of archaeometry to the study of prehistoric marine shells: in “Ifantides F. and Nikolaidou M. (eds.) Spondylus in Prehistory: New Data and Approaches – Contributions to the Archaeology of Shell Technologies”, pp 171-180, BAR International Series 2216.

School of Archaeology > People > RLAHA : Katerina Douka