Michael Charles

Dr Michael Charles

Senior Research Fellow in Environmental Archaeology

Institute of Archaeology
36 Beaumont St, Oxford, OX1 2PG

Tel: +44 (0)1865 278243

Fax: +44 (0) 1865 278254

E-mail: michael.charles@arch.ox.ac.uk

Research Interests

  • Archaeobotany, archaeopalynology, plant functional ecology, stable isotopes, DNA analysis and ethnoarchaeology;
  • Farming societies of Western Asia and Europe from 15,000BC. Origins and spread of agriculture, plant domestication, the role of plants in prehistory.
  • Interactions between humans and the environment in Western Asia and Europe since the last glaciation.

Primary Geographic Areas

Western Asia & Europe

Research Grants


ERC Advanced grant Feeding Anglo-Saxon England: The Bioarchaeology of an Agricultural Revolution. P.I Prof Helena Hamerow, CI Prof Amy Bogaard, Dr Richard Thomas (Leicester)


ERC Advanced Grant. Evolutionary Origins of Agriculture
Co-investigator with Prof G Jones, Prof. M Rees, Dr C Osborne, Dr N Fieller (Sheffield) & Prof T Brown (Manchester). ERC-2010-AdG_20100407


NERC. Origins of Agriculture: an ecological perspective on crop domestication. Co-investigator with Profs G. Jones & M Rees & Dr C Osborne. NE/H0227161/1.


National Science Foundation (USA). Economic integration and cultural survival at neolithic Çatalhöyük Turkey. Co-investigator with Dr. K Twiss, SUNY, USA and Dr Bogaard, (Oxford).


NERC. Out of Asia. Co-investigator with Profs G Jones, C Buck & P Blackwell (Sheffield). NE/E019242/1.

Archaeobotanical Projects


Tell Nebi Mend Archaeobotanical Project (Oxford University) with Dr Jade Whitlam


Ur Archaeological Project, directors Prof Elisabeth Stone & Prof Paul Zimansky, (SUNY, New York)


Central Zagros Archaeological Project, directors Prof. Roger Matthews and Dr Wendy Matthews (University of Reading)


Çatalhöyük Neolithic excavations, director Prof. Ian Hodder (Stanford University)


Tell Brak, Syria; Bronze Age; director Dr Augusta McMahon (Cambridge University) & Dr. Geoff Emberling (Metropolitan Museum, New York, USA)

Selected Publications

Preece C., Livarda, A., Christin, P. A., Wallace, M., Martin, G., Charles, M., Osborne, C. P. (2017). How did the domestication of Fertile Crescent grain crops increase their yields? Functional ecology31(2), 387-397. doi:10.1111/1365-2435.12760

Styring, A. K., Charles, M., Fantone, F., Hald, M. M., McMahon, A., Meadow, R. H., . . . Bogaard, A. (2017). Isotope evidence for agricultural extensification reveals how the world's first cities were fed. Nature plants3, 17076. doi:10.1038/nplants.2017.76

Bogaard, A., Filipović, D., Fairbairn, A., Green, L., Stroud, E., Fuller, D., & Charles, M. (2017). Agricultural innovation and resilience in a long-lived early farming community: The 1,500-year sequence at Neolithic to early Chalcolithic Çatalhöyük, central Anatolia. Anatolian Studies67, 1-28. doi:10.1017/S0066154617000072

Bonhomme, V., Forster, E., Wallace, M., Stillman, E., Charles, M., & Jones, G. (2016). The first shoots of a modern morphometrics approach to the origins of agriculture. WEB ECOLOGY16, 1-2. doi:10.5194/we-16-1-2016

Preece, C., Livarda, A., Wallace, M., Martin, G., Charles, M., Christin, P., Jones, G., Rees, M., Osborne, C., in press, Were Fertile Crescent crop progenitors higher yielding than other wild species that were never domesticated? New Phytologist. New Phytologist (2015) 207: 905–913 doi: 10.1111/nph.13353

Wallace MP, Jones G, Charles M, Fraser R, Heaton THE, Bogaard, A. 2015. Stable Carbon Isotope Evidence for Neolithic and Bronze Age Crop Water Management in the Eastern Mediterranean and Southwest Asia. PLoS ONE 10(6): e0127085. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0127085

Charles M., Forster E., Wallace M. and Jones G. 2015 “Nor ever lightning char thy grain”: establishing archaeologically relevant charring conditions and their effect on glume wheat grain morphology STAR 2015; 1(1), STAR 20152054892315Y.0000000008

Nitsch E. K., Charles M. and Bogaard A. Calculating a statistically robust d13C and d15N offset for charred cereal and pulse seeds STAR 2015; 1(1), STAR20152054892315Y.0000000001

Charles, M., Doherty, C., Asouti, E., Bogaard, A., Henton, E., Spencer Larsen, C., Ruff, C. B., Ryan, P., Sadvari, J. W., and Twiss, K. C., 2014, Landscape and taskscape at Çatalhöyük: an integrated perspective, in Integrating Çatalhöyük: themes from the 2000–2008 seasons (ed. I. Hodder), Monographs of the Cotsen IoA, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, p71-90

Bogaard, A., Henton, E., Evans, J. A., Twiss, K. C., Charles, M. P., Vaiglova, P. and Russell, N. (2014) 'Locating land use at Neolithic Çatalhöyük, Turkey: the implications of 87Sr/86Sr signatures in plants and sheep tooth sequences', Archaeometry, 56(5), 860-877.

Bogaard, A., Charles, M., Livarda, A., Ergun, M., Filipovic, D., and Jones, G., 2014, The archaeobotany at Neolithic Çatalhöyük, in Humans and landscapes of Çatalhöyük: reports from the 2000-8 seasons (ed. I. Hodder), Monographs of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology,

Cunniff J, Wilkinson S, Charles M, Jones G, Rees M. & Osborne, C. 2014. Functional Traits Differ between Cereal Crop Progenitors and Other Wild Grasses Gathered in the Neolithic Fertile Crescent. PLoS ONE 9(1): e87586. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087586

Jones, G., Charles, M., Jones, M., Colledge, S., Leigh, F., Lister, D., Smith, L., Powell, W., Brown, T.A. and Jones, H. 2014. DNA evidence for multiple introductions of barley into Europe following dispersed domestications in W. Asia. Antiquity  87, 337, 701–713

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