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Katerina Douka

Dr Katerina Douka

Post-doctoral Research Assistant; William Golding Research Fellow Brasenose College

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

phone: 01865 285225

fax: 01865 285220

email: 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

PalaeoChron Project "Precision dating of the Palaeolithic, chronological mapping of the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic of Eurasia". European Research Council Advanced Grant (Postdoctoral researcher 2013-2018).
“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, 2013-14).

AHOB 3 Project "Ancient Human Occupation of Britain". Dating the appearance of the Gravettian in western, central and eastern Europe. Leverhulme Trust Grant (Postdoctoral researcher 2011-2013).

Geographic Areas

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


Journal Articles & Conference Proceedings

In press

Douka, K., Bergman, K., Higham, T.F.G. Statistical and archaeological errors invalidate the proposed chronology for the site of Ksar Akil. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (in press).


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.

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