Office: 1.6, Courtyard Building
Phone: 01223 339284
Fax: 01223 339285
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The focus of my research can broadly be described as `human landscapes', the relations, both short- and long-term, between people and environment in the past: How have past human societies and the environments they inhabited constructed and transformed each other? And can understanding these past relationships help inform the present and the future? It is an interest that I have pursued in different ecologies (temperate, semi-arid, arid, rainforest) and with societies at different levels of complexity from the emergence of our species to Roman farmers and, currently in Borneo, present-day rainforest farmers and foragers. The transitions to farming (the `agricultural revolution in prehistory') have been a particular focus for many years, but more recently my interests have moved backwards in time to the origins of modern human behaviour and the adaptations (from environmental to cognitive) made by our species in their migrations out of Africa.
Current research projects
- TRANS-NAP (“Cultural Transformations and Environmental Transitions in North African Prehistory”): a reinvestigation of the 120,000-year-long settlement record of the Haua Fteah cave in Cyrenaica, northeast Libya and the landscape around it. We are investigating when modern humans first crossed the Sahara into North Africa, how they adapted to desertification around 20,000 years ago, and how and why farming began around 7000-8000 years ago. The principal funding is from the European Research Council, and the project is under the aegis of the Society for Libyan Studies.
- The Cultured Rainforest Project: a study of the history of rainforest foraging and farming in the Kelabit Highlands of Sarawak, Borneo, and of the changing lives of the present-day foragers and farmers. (Principal funding: AHRC)