As an archaeological chemist, I am interested in advancing 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 associated land use change.
My recent Humboldt Research Fellowship (2017–2019) at the University of Frankfurt used isotopic analysis of modern and archaeological crops to explore manuring practices during the first two millennia AD in Burkina Faso. I was involved in an ERC funded project at the University of Oxford (2013–2017), which assessed the role of changing agricultural practices in the emergence of urban centres in central Europe, the Aegean and southwest Asia. I obtained my PhD in Chemistry from the University of Bristol (2007–2012), applying nitrogen isotopic analysis of amino acids as a novel approach for the reconstruction of past diet and agricultural practices.
Listen to Amy discuss her research interests in this podcast recorded with St Cross College
Resilience and breakpoints – exploring linkages between societal, agricultural and climatic changes in Iron Age Denmark (PI: Mads Dengsø Jessen)
La consolidación de las sociedades neolíticas en el Mediterráneo central. El asentamiento lacustre de La Marmotta (Roma, Italia) (PI: Juan F. Gibaja Bao)
Movement of agricultural products in the Scandinavian Iron Age during the first millennium AD: 87Sr/86Sr values of archaeological crops and animals in southern Sweden
Larsson, M, Magnell, O, Styring, A, Lagerås, P, Evans, J
STAR: Science & Technology of Archaeological Research
Seed size, number and strategies in annual plants: a comparative functional analysis and synthesis.
Hodgson, JG, Montserrat Marti, G, Šerá, B, Jones, G, Bogaard, A, Charles, M, Font, X, Ater, M, Taleb, A, Santini, BA, Hmimsa, Y, Palmer, C
Annals of botany
<h4>Background and aims</h4>Plants depend fundamentally on establishment from seed. However, protocols in trait-based ecology currently estimate seed size but not seed number. This can be rectified. For annuals, seed number should simply be a positive function of vegetative biomass and a negative function of seed size.<h4>Methods</h4>Using published values of comparative seed number as the 'gold standard' and a large functional database, comparative seed yield and number per plant and per m2 were predicted by multiple regression. Subsequently, ecological variation in each was explored for English and Spanish habitats, newly calculated C-S-R strategies and changed abundance in the British flora.<h4>Key results</h4>As predicted, comparative seed mass yield per plant was consistently a positive function of plant size and competitive ability, and largely independent of seed size. Regressions estimating comparative seed number included, additionally, seed size as a negative function. Relationships differed numerically between regions, habitats and C-S-R strategies. Moreover, some species differed in life history over their geographical range. Comparative seed yield per m2 was positively correlated with FAO crop yield, and increasing British annuals produced numerous seeds. Nevertheless, predicted values must be viewed as comparative rather than absolute: they varied according to the 'gold standard' predictor used. Moreover, regressions estimating comparative seed yield per m2 achieved low precision.<h4>Conclusions</h4>For the first time, estimates of comparative seed yield and number for >800 annuals and their predictor equations have been produced and the ecological importance of these regenerative traits has been illustrated. 'Regenerative trait-based ecology' remains in its infancy, with work needed on determinate vs. indeterminate flowering ('bet-hedging'), C-S-R methodologies, phylogeny, comparative seed yield per m2 and changing life history. Nevertheless, this has been a positive start and readers are invited to use estimates for >800 annuals, in the Supplementary data, to help advance 'regenerative trait-based ecology' to the next level.
Plants, Seeds, Ecosystem, Phylogeny, Phenotype
Isotopic and microbotanical insights into Iron Age agricultural reliance in the Central African rainforest
Bleasdale, M, Wotzka, H-P, Eichhorn, B, Mercader, J, Styring, A, Zech, J, Soto, M, Inwood, J, Clarke, S, Marzo, S, Fiedler, B, Linseele, V
<jats:p>The emergence of agriculture in Central Africa has previously been associated with the migration of Bantu-speaking populations during an anthropogenic or climate-driven ‘opening’ of the rainforest. However, such models are based on assumptions of environmental requirements of key crops (e.g. <jats:italic>Pennisetum glaucum</jats:italic>) and direct insights into human dietary reliance remain absent. Here, we utilise stable isotope analysis (δ<jats:sup>13</jats:sup>C, δ<jats:sup>15</jats:sup>N, δ<jats:sup>18</jats:sup>O) of human and animal remains and charred food remains, as well as plant microparticles from dental calculus, to assess the importance of incoming crops in the Congo Basin. Our data, spanning the early Iron Age to recent history, reveals variation in the adoption of cereals, with a persistent focus on forest and freshwater resources in some areas. These data provide new dietary evidence and document the longevity of mosaic subsistence strategies in the region.</jats:p>
Nitrogen isotope values of Pennisetum glaucum (pearl millet) grains: towards a reconstruction of past cultivation conditions in the Sahel, West Africa
Vegetation History and Archaeobotany
Spatial and temporal patterns in Neolithic and Bronze Age agriculture in Poland based on the stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic composition of cereal grains
Mueller-Bieniek, A, Nowak, M, Styring, A, Lityńska-Zając, M, Moskal-del Hoyo, M, Sojka, A, Paszko, B, Tunia, K, Bogaard, A