Fellow of the McDonald Institute
for Archaeological Research
Relict canal course, Lower
Ica Valley, Peru
My research has concentrated on the origins and intensification of agriculture, and its role both in the development of complex society, and in determining past human impacts on ecosystems and landscapes. My areas of methodological expertise are in archaeobotany (particularly processes of domestication), in technologies for agriculture and textiles, and in the geomorphology of arid lands. I have applied these interests and skills particularly to the hearth of agriculture and ‘pristine’ civilisation in the Central Andes, as director since 2000 of the Lower Ica Valley Archaeological Research Project on the south coast of Peru. In Europe, meanwhile, I have focused on on human ecology in the Upper Palaeolithic, when evidence first begins to emerge of humans coming to understand, shape and respond to their environment in more sophisticated ways — ‘modern’ behaviour.
Recently I have turned my research experience in these fields to a new and growing interest in achieving a more coherent synthesis between archaeology and the different (but in principle complementary) record of the past provided by historical linguistics. This involves both exploring general principles for how best to integrate the disciplines, and then applying them especially to the case-study of the relatively little-known language prehistory of the Andes.
I did my MPhil and PhD in archaeology at the University of Cambridge and was subsequently a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow there. I am currently also a Fellow of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge.
Towards a Cross-Disciplinary Prehistory: Converging Perspectives from Language, Archaeology and Genes
Lower Ica Valley Archaeological Research Project on the south coast of Peru
Moravian Gate Project
Beresford-Jones, D.G. 2011. The Lost Woodlands of Ancient Nasca. A Case-study in Ecological and Cultural Collapse. British Academy Postdoctoral Monograph Series, Oxford University Press.
Heggarty, P. and D.G. Beresford-Jones (editors). 2012. Archaeology and Language in the Andes. Proceedings of the British Academy 173, Oxford University Press. http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780197265031.do
Kaulicke, P., R. Cerrón-Palomino, P. Heggarty and D.G. Beresford-Jones (editors). 2011. Lenguas y sociedades en el antiguo Perú: hacia un enfoque interdisciplinario, Boletín de Arqueología de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú 14, Lima.
SELECTED ARTICLES AND CHAPTERS
Beresford-Jones, D.G., S. Taylor, C. Paine, A. Pryor, J. Svoboda and M.K. Jones. 2011. Rapid Climate Change in the Upper Palaeolithic: The Record of Charcoal Conifer Rings from the Gravettian Site of Dolní Vĕstonice, Czech Republic. Quaternary Science Reviews. [link to pdf]
Beresford-Jones, D.G, O.Q. Whaley, C. Alarcón and L. Cadwallader. 2011. Two millennia of changes in human ecology: archaeobotanical and invertebrate records from the lower Ica Valley, south coast Peru. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 20(4): 273-292. [link to pdf]
Beresford-Jones, D.G., C. Alarcón, S. Arce, A. Chepstow-Lusty, O. Whaley, F. Sturt, M. Gorriti, O. Portocarrero and L. Cadwallader. 2011. Ocupación y subsistencia durante el horizonte temprano en el contexto de cambios ecológicos a largo plazo en las cuencas de Samaca y Ullujaya, valle baja de Ica, in El Periodo Formativo en el Perú, edited by Kaulicke, P. and Onuki, Y. Boletín de Arqueología PUCP 13, Fondo Editorial de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. [link to pdf]
Beresford-Jones, D.G. and P. Heggarty. 2011. What Role for Language Prehistory in Redefining Archaeological ‘Culture? A Case-Study on New Horizons in the Andes, in Investigating Archaeological Cultures: Material Culture, Variability and Transmission, edited by Roberts, B and Vander Linden, M. New York: Springer. [link to pdf]
Whaley, O.Q, D.G. Beresford-Jones, W. Milliken, A. Orellana, A. Smyk and J. Leguia. 2010. An ecosystem approach to restoration and sustainable management of dry forest in Southern Peru. Kew Bulletin 65(4): 613-641. [link to pdf].
Heggarty, P. and D.G. Beresford-Jones. 2010 Agriculture and Language Dispersals: Limitations, Refinements, and an Andean Exception? Current Anthropology 51: 163-191. [link to pdf]
Beresford-Jones, D.G., K. Johnson, A.G. Pullen, J. Svoboda and M.K. Jones. 2010 Burning wood or burning bone? A reconsideration of flotation evidence from Upper Palaeolithic (Gravettian) sites in the Moravian Gate, Czech Republic. Journal of Archaeological Science 37 (11): 2799-2811. [link to pdf]
Beresford-Jones, D.G. 2010 Book Review: The ancient Andean village: Marcaya in Prehispanic Nasca by K.J. Vaughn. Antiquity 84: 586-587. [link to pdf]
Beresford-Jones, D.G., S. Arce, O.Q. Whaley and A. Chepstow-Lusty. 2009 The Role of Prosopis in Ecological and Landscape Change in the Samaca Basin, Lower Ica Valley, South Coast Peru from the Early Horizon to the Late Intermediate Period. Latin American Antiquity 20: 303-332. [link to pdf]
Beresford-Jones, D.G., H. Lewis and S. Boreham. 2009 Linking cultural and environmental change in Peruvian prehistory: Geomorphological Survey of the Samaca Basin, Lower Ica Valley. Catena 78: 234-249. [link to pdf]
Heggarty, P. and D.G. Beresford-Jones. 2009 Not the Incas? Weaving Archaeology and Language into a Single New Prehistory. British Academy Review 12: 11-15. [link to pdf]
Beresford-Jones, D.G. 2009 Book Review Essay: Offspring of the marriage of archaeology and ethnography in the Andes. Antiquity 83: 855-858. [link to pdf]
Beresford-Jones, D.G. 2005 The Tree of Life. Planet Earth, Summer 2005: 25-34. [link to pdf]
Beresford-Jones, D.G. and S. Arce 2010 Informe de los Trabajos Realizados Durante la Temporada 2007. Presentada ante la Comisión Técnica de Arqueología. Instituto Nacional de Cultura del Perú. Lima, Peru. [link to pdf]
Beresford Jones, D.G. 2005. Pre-Hispanic Prosopis-Human Relationships on the South Coast of Peru: Riparian Forests in the Context of Environmental and Cultural Trajectories of the Lower Ica Valley. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of Cambridge. http://www.arch.cam.ac.uk/dgb27/
Beresford-Jones, D.G., S. Arce and C. Grimaldo 2004 Informe de los Trabajos Realizados Durante la Temporada 2002. Presentada ante la Comisión Técnica de Arqueología. Instituto Nacional de Cultura del Perú. Lima, Peru. [link to pdf]
Research impact and outreach
Aside from my publication outputs my research has achieved considerable public impact, being reported in print and online in Nature, New Scientist, the BBC, Channel 4 news (UK), the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, El País and all UK broadsheet newspapers, among many others. For a sample of the coverage, please see:
For more information on the contemporary resonance of this archaeological research
And for more information on RBG Kew’s work on the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of dry forest in Southern Peru