As an archaeological chemist and Head of the Stable Isotope Lab, I advance scientific methods that reveal a direct and detailed picture of everyday life in the past, particularly in relation to food production and consumption practices and their impact on the environment. You can hear a bit more about my research interests in this podcast recorded with St Cross College.
I focus on carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of human and animal bones and charred plant remains recovered from archaeological sites and use the carbon and nitrogen isotope values of individual amino acids in their proteins to improve predictions of human and animal diet. I have also applied strontium isotope analysis to plant remains to elucidate the movement of crops in the past and strontium and oxygen isotope analysis to animal teeth to study the movement of livestock.
I use these methods to tackle major questions about life in the past, in a variety of archaeological contexts from different time periods and geographical regions. My current research activities are listed below:
2022–2028 Project Partner: Tracing the Epipalaeolithic origins of plant management in southwest Asia (PalaeOrigins), European Research Council. PI: Amaia Arranz-Otaegui, Universidad del País Vasco
2022–2025 Co-I: Agencies of behavioural change in early modern humans in NW Africa (CAVES Africa Project), Leverhulme Trust. PI: Nick Barton
2022–2024 Project Partner: CROPREVIVE: mapping underutilised crops in Ireland – past, present and future, Irish Research Council. PI: Meriel McClatchie, UCD
2022–2024 Project Partner: FOODSEC: Food security in Bronze Age Ireland, Irish Research Council. PI: Meriel McClatchie, UCD
2021–2023 Project Partner: Utnyttjande av hassel i Skåne och Blekinges förhistoriska landskap, Ebbe Kocks stiftelse. PI: Karl Ljung, Lund University
2020–2024 Project Partner: Plant environment and resource exploitation in SW Ethiopia >50 ka to the present, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. PIs: Katharina Neumann and Karen Hahn, Frankfurt University
2019–2024 Project Partner: Isolation and Evolution in Oceanic Islands: the human colonisation of the Canary Islands (IsoCAN), European Research Council. PI: Jonathan Santana-Cabrera, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
2019–2023 Project Partner: Resilience and breakpoints – exploring linkages between societal, agricultural and climatic changes in Iron Age Denmark, Det Frie Forskningsråd. PI: Mads Dengsø Jessen, National Museum of Denmark