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Department of Archaeology



Throughout my life, I have taken unexpected risks, seized opportunities, and benefitted from the generosity of others. I first arrived in the UK from Poland in the mid 1980s, accompanied by my best friend. 

I started to learn English in my nursery followed by private lessons for me and my two cousins. When I once asked my grandmother why the family decided that it was good for us to do it, the answer was that one day we would realise it was useful. I went to primary school near my grandmother's home since my parents travelled a lot. I spent much of time there. The Primary School no. 30 was attended by the most financially privileged children whose fathers worked in the merchant navy, hence they had access to stipends in US dollars when they went onshore anywhere in the world. Those children had western clothing and access to exotic foods like bananas and oranges, delicacies we only usually saw at Christmas and Easter. What I remember the most are the framed cases of tropical butterflies hanging on the walls, the signifiers of wealth and prosperity that could only be obtained by traveling abroad. The other set of children's parents were working e.g., in the shipyards and on fishing trawlers, I belonged to this group. Thinking about this now, the teachers were most accommodating when my mother had consulted them about my inability to read. The teacher told her to start worrying only if I did not start reading by the time I was 13. I developed strategies to hide my shortcomings: after my grandmother had read any text to me twice, I could memorise anything up to a page in length, and so without actually reading a word, it appeared that I could read all the necessary passages faultlessly. 

Gdynia, the town I grew up in is, along with Gdańsk, one of the places where the workers went on the streets in 1970: some of them never come back home alive. We were locked down at school and only allowed out with an adult. I was picked up by the father of my best friend from the yard where we were not allowed to play during martial law. I remember the convoy of tanks moving toward the shipyard and the eerie silence I experienced for the first time.

My secondary school III Liceum Ogólnokształcące was something completely different. It is still one of the best secondary schools in the country, where many of the pupils are taught in English, while others have six hours a week to work on perfecting their language skills. I was in the second category. The school caters for children of parents working for the foreign trade missions located in our port city, and children of people high up in the administration. However, to keep academic standards high, clever children also constituted a large part of the pupils’ cohort. My shortcomings rapidly become apparent: I was thrown out by one of the teachers who decided that my Polish spelling and grammar were disgraceful - fortunately, a place was found for me in a less ‘demanding’ class.  

My language-learning troubles did not leave me when I entered Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. It was the time of Solidarity, and though for the two first years learning a foreign language was compulsory, I did not need to take Russian. Since the exams were based on verbal examinations I had no problem with one exception: my nightmare was Latin. I have to admit I struggled a lot with that.
During the five years of university study, since we could all more or less communicate in English, we all were thinking of going to England to see how the world looked on the other side of the Berlin Wall. But only my friend and I actually took up this challenge. Looking back on my own University days brings a sense of responsibility for the students for whom I am now Tutor. I remember the lecturers standing in the entrances to each student accommodation building trying to protect the students against the threat from the police. We went on strike and demonstrated against the government: we were all pro-Solidarity. The reality was brutal. Toruń is an old medieval city with most streets leading to the main square. One evening the streets were closed, the police moved in and starting beating and arresting us. We entered the University church considering it as a sanctuary, thinking that the police did not dare to enter it. Indeed they did not, but as a response to the ongoing worry about what might happen, and to prevent the unthinkable, we left the church. Our male colleagues were arrested and imprisoned. Martial law was proclaimed, the eerie silence returned: the same quietness I experienced again in Girton during the Covid lockdown. Memories started to flashback, and I found myself thinking about the most difficult part of those times, my mother’s disappearance. She was high up in Solidarity, responsible for all Polish natural resources, including from the forest, coal and water. She disappeared so as not to be arrested. We never talked about it. Fortunately for me, my university had no so-called big names. I recall not being particularly impressed by those who were – which encouraged me to see what the other archaeologists were doing and thinking in the West.

My chosen subject in Cambridge was the origins of agriculture in what were still, in those days, the Baltic Republic States of the Soviet Union. It was not an easy time to carry out field research in this region: perestroika started, the Baltic Republics became three independent Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), and the Soviet Union turned into the Russian Federation. It was a time of shortages and ethnic tensions, but most importantly for me, it was a time when I was able to build wonderful friendships that have lasted to this day. I also got to experience my first ‘White Nights’, those northern summer evenings when the sun never leaves the sky (curiously, I found myself longing for these while locked down at Girton during the pandemic).

My fieldwork in St Petersburg, studying pottery and other materials excavated from the Pskov region, gave me privileged access to the Hermitage: I was free to explore its galleries of classical sculpture and masterpieces of Western art, as well as the attic storerooms in the Little Hermitage, which had once been the quarters of the Tsar’s servants. Library research took place in the palace of the last Tsar’s grandfather, a few blocks away from the Hermitage itself. Why, you may ask, was I conducting research in St Petersburg (then Leningrad) when my real focus was the archaeology of the Baltic coast? Because all the books I needed, even if they were about Lithuania, were in Leningrad, rather than Vilnius or the other Baltic centres. I did, however, get to spend time in Lithuania, during which I was greatly impressed by the archaeology, in particular by some very spectacular sculptures carved from amber. At the same time, however, I was very aware of the history of colonialism in the Baltic and the uneasy history between Poles and Lithuanians. Poles consider the union with the Duchy of Lithuania in the late 14th and early 15th-century a good political decision, while Lithuanians consider it as disastrous, leading to the loss of independence. While one can understand both sides, I found myself subject to small tensions between the two ethnic groups. I also came to realise how deeply my education was influenced by the Soviet Union’s colonial influences on ethic minorities and satellite countries. 

When I finished my PhD, my first job was as manager of the Pitt-Rivers Laboratory for Archaeological Science in the newly opened McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. I still work in the Department of Archaeology, though I left the Pitt-Rivers Lab some time ago and have since focused my research on the archaeology of art and heritage studies. It is a long time since I became a Fellow of Girton, where I found a home and a whole new dimension to my Cambridge existence, as a Postgraduate Tutor and Director of Studies. In 2019 I became the Deputy Director of the Cambridge Heritage Research Centre. My background as someone who has been subjected to colonial treatment by a neighbouring country has given me the impetus to initiate new projects on the need to decolonise not only the past but also the present. 

My research in Russian Karelia stopped with the Russian Federation’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. I am now focusing on Japan working on prehistoric art and heritage.


Since the illegal invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation my research activities on the Rock Art of Northern Russia Project have ceased (if you would like to know more, please see the previous web entry Land the Sun Never Sets: The Rock Art of White Sea)



Spirituality, Heritage of Practice and the Sense of Belonging 

This project aims to assess the spiritual association between contemporary communities and the people of the past. In particular, we are looking at local communities in Japan and their ancestral association with the Jomon peoples, understood to be the first inhabitants of the Japanese archipelago (the Jomon period is dated to around 16,500 to 2500 years ago). This project uses the concept of heritage of practice to explore active linkages between the present and the past, in this case spiritual relationships with past communities, linking people between different times and spaces. This innovative approach allows us to look at both tangible and intangible aspects of heritage ‘rooted’ in the past, without labelling them as invented heritage or practice. This heritage of practice is linked to embodied experiences, the way in which practitioners might want to ‘feel’ as people in the past did (hence using the same building techniques, materials, etc.), or even developing perceived emotional connections to the past.

Collaborating institutions: Department of Sociology, Kobe University; Sainsbury Institute for the Study of the Japanese Arts and Cultures, Morioka University, Japan.

Decolonisation beyond the Atlantic slave trade
The re-establishment of independent nation states after the collapse of the Soviet Union has re-shaped central and eastern European as well as broader Eurasian geopolitics in the 21st century, a process that is still ongoing. The crafting of new national identities draws extensively upon conceptions of heritage, both tangible and intangible, that are a blend of pre-Soviet thinking informed by 19th-century nationalism and ideas forged in opposition to Soviet hegemony. Further, the attack of the Russian Federation on Ukraine in 2021, brought into focus the need to think more broadly in the way we can decolonise our museums, teaching, and approaches to so-called Western-biased colonial and post-colonial legacies.

Decolonising Museums: Voices from Europe and Asia
This initiative is linked with the collapse of the Soviet Bloc and the creation of new states in Europe and Asia. It goes beyond well-established initiatives related to Atlantic slavery and the implications of colonial domination by the so-called Western world. This initiative will start in October 2023 involving the University Cambridge Museums and MPhil (post-graduate course) in Heritage Studies students’ cohort will be involve in undertaking research into historic collectors, checking cultural groups and place names catalogued from pre-1989 borders to contemporary states by changing elements such as place names, cultural belonging or/and redefining the national identity of the donor or excavator.

Establishing Voices from Ukraine by the publication of one or two articles written by Ukrainian heritage practitioners in the Cambridge Heritage Research Centre Bulletin (online publication by Cambridge Heritage Research Centre, University of Cambridge). The publication is accessible without restrictions, requiring no subscription fee.

Translating the knowledge
Translating the knowledge is a project bringing new archaeological interpretations of the past to the present by engaging the general public and academics from the Department of Archaeology and beyond. To date I have taken part in and co-curated a number of exhibitions (including 2018-2019, White Sea Rock Art in Ulsan, South Korea; 2016, Garden of Fragments, Ryosokuin Temple, part of the Kenninji temple complex, Kyoto, Japan; 2016, Time and Space in Storytelling: Image and Text, Past and Present, Pomeranian Library, Szczecin, Poland; 2006 Lines of Enquiry: thinking through drawing, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, UK; 2003-2004, ROCK-ART image people land knowledge, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge; 2003, The First Skiers in Norway, Ski-Museum in Morgedal, Norway; 1998-2001, Member of the Organising Committee for the Flaming Pottery: Art and Landscape in Jomon Japan exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, UK).
The forthcoming event is part of Being Human, Festival of Neolithic Ideas, Stonehenge, World Heritage Site, 9th-13th November 2023 By combining our strengths, the Department of Archaeology, the University of Cambridge, and English Heritage present how contemporary science makes us know more about the past. Archaeological sciences and heritage showcase here the way math/statistics, organic and inorganic chemistry, physics, and biology are part of human stories and go beyond ‘boring’ static knowledge transfer. The global view on the Neolithic Ideas will be presented  by Cambridge archaeologists showing how STEM subjects are integral part of learning about our present and the past.

Visual art and the past 

Connecting the Landscape: Materiality of Substance
The aim of this project is to investigate connections in the landscape by the prehistoric people of Jomon Japan (approximately 16,500-2,500 years ago) through following the movement of clay objects including symbolic material culture (figurines/dogu) to cooking or storage vessels, and employing scientific analysis of the clays they were made from.     
The tradition of clay use as a material is dated to c. 16,500 years ago, when first pottery vessels were created, marking the start of pottery use in a process of invention and innovation that spread from a number of independent locations across eastern Asia. This use of clay to produce vessels and sculpture persists to today as one of the most significant technological innovations, clearly originally attributed to gathering, fishing and hunting communities.  This innovation required recognition of the properties of clay as a soft and tremendously flexible material when wet which converts to hard and rigid when dry. These affordances of clay as a substance were used by prehistoric communities to make objects not only durable but also easily to breakable: the objects created to be broken included dogu figures. 
The methodology involves establishing where clays used in the manufacture of the figurines came from in the landscape, based on the use of a hand-held XRF machine which provides a detailed analysis of the chemical composition of the clays used to make these fascinating objects. This in turn can be used to identify where the clays came from, and is allowing the testing of ideas about the movement of commodities in Jomon Japan, essential to a broader understanding of the nature of Jomon society. 
Collaborating institutions: Research Institute for the Dynamics of Civilization, Okayama University, Niigata Prefectural Museum of History, Umataka Jomon Museum, Sanjo City Museum, Morimachi Museum, Hokuto City Museum, Museum of Kyoto, Goshono Jomon Museum, Sainsbury Institute for the Study of the Japanese Arts and Cultures. 

Facing emotions: visual art meets machine learning
Facial expressions are a very powerful medium for non-verbal communication.  Transmitting, receiving, and recognising emotions and feelings through facial expressions are a crucial part of the neurophysiological capacities of being human.  
The aim of this project is to engage with the emotional impact prehistoric art carries by establishing face-based emotions captured in depictions of faces that can be used in assessing the emotional potency of art. What are those emotions? How can we unlock the emotional messages they convey? The goal of this study, through addressing these questions, is to evaluate the potential of these methodologies for future research. The depiction of faces in ancient and contemporary art has the capacity to profoundly affect the viewer.
Collaborating institutions: Research Institute for the Dynamics of Civilization, Okayama University, Goshono Jomon Museum, Queen Mary University of London, Sainsbury Institute for the Study of the Japanese Arts and Cultures. 

Key Publications

Key publications: 

 Publications - peer reviewed

  • 2021 Prehistoric art as a part of the neurophysiological capacities of seeing. Examples from prehistoric rock art and portable art. World Archaeology, DOI: 10.1080/00438243.2020.1858952
  • 2020 The Archaeology of Seeing. Science and interpretation, the past and the contemporary visual art. London & New York: Routledge
  • 2020 forthcoming. Visual narratives and the depiction of whaling in north European rock art: the case of the White Sea, in Subsistence Whaling: Past History and Contemporary Issuses. J. M. Savelle and N. Kishigami (eds). Springer: New York. 
  • 2019 The ontology of praxis: hard memory and the rock art of the White Sea. Time and Mind 12(3): 207-219
  • 2018 with J. Conney Williams. Community art: Communities of practice, situated learning, adults and children as creators of cave art in upper Palaeolithic. Open Archaeology 4: 217–238
  • 2017 Rock art as an independent evidence of prehistoric marine hunting: The case of harpoon and float in the rock art of Eastern Scandinavian Peninsula, Russia and Bangudae, Korea, in Whale on the Rock.  S. Lee (ed). Uslan: Uslan Petroglyph Museum, 101-109 
  • 2015 In search of the origins of shamanism, community identity and personal experiences: prehistoric rock art and the religion of northern peoples. Fennoscandia archaeologica 32: 139-150
  • 2015 with M. Sapwell. Making community: Rock art and the creative acts of accumulation, in Ritual landscapes and borders within rock art research. H. M. V. Stebergløkken, R. Berge, E. Lindgaard and H. Vangen Stuedal (eds). Oxford: Archaeopress, 47-58
  • 2014 Visual vocabulary of the landscape: environmental exploitation and Upper Palaeolithic art, in Living in the Landscape.  K. Boyle, R. Rabett and C. Hunt (eds). Cambridge: McDonald Institute Monographs, 137-146
  • 2014 Seeing visual narrative. New methodologies in the study of prehistoric visual   depictions. Archaeological Dialogues 21(1): 103-126
  • 2013 Joining Forces: Neuroaesthetics, Contemporary Visual Art and   Archaeological Interpretation of the Past, in Art and archaeology: collaborations, conversations, criticisms. I. A.  Russell and A. Cochrane (eds). New York: Springer-Kluwer, 35-50
  • 2013 Changing paradigms: Flux and stability in past environments, in Cambridge   Anthropology 31 (1): 85-104
  • 2012 The social context of Palaeolithic figural art: performativity, materialisation and fragmentation, in Unravelling  the Paleolithic: ten years of research at the Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins (CAHO, University of Southampton). K, Ruebens, I.  Romanowska, R. Bynoe (eds). University of Southampton series in archaeology, 8. Oxford: Archaeopress, 131-140
  • 2011 Why does difference matter? The creation of identity among prehistoric fisher-gatherer-hunters of northern Europe, in Structured Worlds. The Archaeology of Hunter-Gatherer Thought and Action. A. Cannon (ed). Sheffield, Oakville: Equinox, 128-140
  • 2010 The development and periodisation of White Sea rock art carvings, in Acta Archaeologica, 81: 83-94
  • 2007 with C. Roughley and K. Szczęsna. Skiing on the rocks: experiential art of prehistoric fisher-gatherer-hunters from Northern Russia, in Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 17: (3) 297-310

Non peer-reviewed publications

  • 2020 with N. Matsumoto, A. Ceccarelli, J. Shiraishi, J., T. Kajiki, Y. Ishimoto. XRF analysis on the pottery sherds from Tsukumo Shell Midden. Kasaoka City Excavation Report 6: General Research Report of the Tsukumo Shell Midden, Kasaoka City Board of Education (in Japanese), 401-407
  • 2018 Rock Art of the White Sea (ed). Uslan: Uslan Petroglyph Museum (in English and Korean).
  • 2018 The unique and the common: The rock art of the White Sea, Rock Art of the White Sea, L. Janik (ed). Uslan: Uslan Petroglyph Museum (in English and Korean), 52-68
  • 2018 From Line to Colour: Social Context and Visual Communication of Prehistoric Art. Editor with S. Kaner, Open Archaeology 4.
  • 2018 with S. Kaner. Art and the Brain: Archaeological Perspectives on Visual Communication. Open Archaeology 4: 145–151
  • 2014 'Preservation by record': The case from eastern Scandinavia, in Open-Air Rock Art Conservation and Management: State of the Art and   Future Perspectives. T. Darvil, and A. P. Batarda Fernandes, (eds). New York and London:  Routledges, 112-124
  • 2012 ‘Noble death’, images of violence in the rock art of White Sea in Visualising the Neolithic: abstraction, figuration, performance, representation in Visualising the Neolithic: abstraction, figuration, performance, representation. A. Cochrane and A. Jones (eds).  Oxford: Oxbow Books, 39-49
  • 2012 Revisiting the chronology of the rock art of the Vig river and its significance for understanding prehistoric art in the northwast Russia-Scandinavia region, in Mesolit i Neolit Vastochny Evropy: Hronologija I Kulturnoje Vzaimodejctve. Cankt-Peterburg: Rossijskaja Academija Nauk Institut Istorii Materialnoj Kultury, Musej Antropologii i Etnografii Imeni Petra Velikoro (Kunstkamera), 162-169
  • 2012 Her or him, exploring the creation myth and symbolism of gender in Upper Palaeolithic portable art of Eurasia, in L’art Pléistocène Dans le Monde / Pleistocene Art of the World / Arte Pleistoceno en el Mundo. J. Clottes (dir). Tarascon-sur-Ariège: Actes du Congrès IFRAO, Art mobilier pléistocène, 306-308
  • 2010 Awaking the symbolic calendar: animal figurines and the conceptualisation of the natural world in the Jomon of Northern Japan, in Anthropomorphic and Zoomorphic Miniature Figures in Eurasia, Africa and Meso-America Morphology, Materiality, Technology, Function and Context. D.   Georghiu and A. Cyphers. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 113-121
  • 2010 The emotional potency of masks and faces in the Early Bronze Age of Northern Europe, in Masken der Vorzeit in Europa.  I. R. Maraszek (ed). Halle: Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt – Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte, 139-143
  • 2009 Interpreting visual narrative: from North European rock art to shamanic drums of Northern Peoples, in Prehistoric Art – Signs, Symbols, Myth, Ideology, IFRAO – Global State of the Art. D. Seglie, M. Otte, L. Oosterbeek, and L. Remacle (eds).  Lisbon: The Proceedings of the XV International Union for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences World Congress, vol 27. BAR International Series 2028, 79-85
  • 2008 Analogy revisited: thoughts on the use of the direct historical method beyond the Finnish rock art, in Norwegian Archaeological Review 40: 2, 137-142
  • 2007 Animism in rock art and material culture of prehistoric Siberia, in Cult in Context: Reconsidering Ritual in Archaeology. D. A. Barrowclough and C. A. T. Malone (eds). Oxford: Oxbow Books, 191-197
  • 2005 Refining social relations – tradition, complementarity and internal tension, in Mesolithic Studies. N. Milner and P. Woodman (eds). Oxford: Oxbow Books, 176-194
  • 2004 ‘Silent’ feminist contribution to archaeological thought, in The Archaeologist: Detective and Thinker. L. B. Vishniackiy, A. A. Kovalev and O. A. Scheglova (eds). St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg University Press, 198-204
  • 2004  Rock carvings of Russian Karelia: visual perception and cognition, in Antiquity 78: 299.
  • 2003 Changing paradigms: food as a metaphor for cultural identity among prehistoric fisher-gatherer-hunter communities of Northern Europe, in Identity and Culture in the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age. M. Parker-Pearson (ed). Oxford: British Archaeological Report, International Series 1117: 113-123
  • 2001 Wandering weed. The journey of Fagopyrum plant as an indicator of human movement in Eurasia, in Ancient Interactions: East and West in Eurasia. K. Boyle, C. Renfrew and M. Levine (eds). Cambridge: McDonald Institute Monographs, 299-308
  • 2001 with K. Szczęsna. Guide for visually impaired people, for the Flaming Pottery: Art and Landscape in Jomon Japan. Exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Peterborough: The Royal Society for the Blind People.
  • 2000 Construction of the individual and transmission of knowledge among Early and Mid-Holocene communities of Northern Europe, in Children and Material Culture. J. Sofaer-Derevenski (ed). London: Routledge, 118-130
  • 1999 Rock art as a visual representation or how to travel to Sweden without Christopher Tilley, in Anthology of Rock Art. J.  Goldhahn (ed). Oxford: British Archaeological Report, International Series 794: 129-140
  • 1998 with H. Zawadzka. Gender politics in Polish archaeology, in The Role and Contributions of Women in the European Archaeolog.M. L. Stig-Sorensen and M. Diaz-Andreu (eds). London: Routledge, 86-103
  • 1998  The appearance of food producing societies in the South-eastern Baltic Sea Region, in The Transition to Farming in the Baltic. M. Zvelebil, L. Domańska and R. Dennell (eds). Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 237-244
  • 1997 Mesolithic and Neolithic Europe, text and images as well as picture research for other periods and continents, in Atlas of the Ancient World.  C. Scarre (ed). London: Maris Multimedia, (CD-ROM publication)


  • 2018-2019 curating (forthcoming), exhibition White Sea Rock Art: Skiing, Whaling and Polyphonic Story Telling in Ulsan, Korea
  • 2016 participation in, Garden of FragmentsRyosokuin Temple part of the Keninji temple complex, Kyoto
  • 2016 participation in, Time and Space in Storytelling: Image and Text, Past and Present, Pomeranian Library, Szczecin, Poland
  • 2006 participation in, Lines of Enquiry: thinking through drawing, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge
  • 2003 participation in, The First Skiers in Norway, Ski-Museum in Morgedal, Norway
  • 2003-2004 participation in, ROCK-ART image people land knowledge, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge
  • 1998-2001 participation in, Member of the Organising Committee for the Flaming Pottery: Art and Landscape in Jomon Japanexhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge

Recent invited conference and seminar presentations

  • 2018 The Unique and the Common: The Rock Art of the White Sea as the Potential Candidate for World Heritage Status Art in the Context of Ancient Rock The World Cultural Heritage (key note speaker),  Petrozavodsk, Russia
  • 2017  Materiality of Praxis and Substance: A Tangible Witnesses to the Russian Revolution and the Subsequent Oppression,Cambridge Heritage Seminar 18, Cambridge, UK
  • 2017 Ontologies of Praxis: Time and Participation in the Rock Art of the White Sea, Rock Art WorldingsKalmar, Sweden
  • 2017 Whales, whaling and interconnections between community members in the rock art of the White SeaWhale on the Rock - International Symposium,  Ulsan, Korea
  • 2017 From Prehistoric Rock Art to Cubism: Social and cultural aspects of seeing time is space, Theoretical, Archaeology Group Conference, Cardiff
  • 2016 Wonders of prehistoric art: from rock art to art history. Skiing and whaling in Prehistoric Russia (inaugural speaker for the Ancient Cultures Around the World Series), Chungnam National University, Daegeon, Korea
  • 2016 session co-organiser, The Art of Landscape and the Landscape of Art, World           Archaeology Congress, Kyoto, Japan
  • 2016 The Art of Landscape and the Landscape of Art, World Archaeology Congress, Kyoto, Japan
  • 2015 From Ego to Allocentric Sculpture: The Earliest Figures of Palaeolithic Eurasia, McDonald Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge
  • 2015  Co-organiser, Art and the Brain: How Imagery Makes Us Human, McDonald Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge
  • 2015 Exploring visual culture: neurophysiology, cultural preferences and storytelling over the last hundred thousand years, The Origins and Transmission of Culture; An Interdisciplinary Approach, University of Birmingham, Birmingham
  • 2015 In search of art: six hundred thousand years of visual communication, presented at Oxford University Archaeological Society, Oxford
  • 2014 The present and the past: Environmental services, biodiversity, metastable ecosystem, and cultural categorisation of landscape, presented at the Research Institute for Humanities and Nature in Kyoto, Japan
  • 2014 How Contemporary the Prehistoric Art Is?, presented at Art and Archaeology Forum, the Museum of Kyoto, Japan
  • 2014 How Contemporary the Prehistoric Art Is?, presented at Knowledge Forum Osaka, Japan
  • 2014 Light and Shadow: Kinetic art of prehistoric Europe, presented at Association of Art Historian Conference, London
  • 2013 Co-organiser, Unravelling Human Origins, International Forum on Human Origins: Behaviour, Environment and Technology Conference, St John’s College, University of Cambridge
  • 2013 To Create, To See, To Communicate: a Neuroaesthetics Approach to Palaeolithic Visual Art, presented at the European Palaeolithic Conference, British Museum, London
  • 2013 Cultural Categorisation of Plants by Prehistoric Fisher-Gatherer-Hunter Communities of the Northeastern European, presented at the European Association of Archaeologists Meeting conference, Prague, Czech Republic.
  • 2013  Entanglement of the landscapes, presented at the European Association of Archaeologists Meeting conference, Prague, Czech Republic
  • 2012 In Search of the Origins of Shamanism, Community Identity and Personal Experiences: Prehistoric Rock Art and the Religion of Northern Peoples,   presented at the European Association of Archaeologists Meeting conference, Helsinki, Finland
  • 2012 Organiser, The Cambridge Art and Archaeology Workshop: Art through the Millennia (The Role of Art through the Millennia?), McDonald Institute, University of    Cambridge
  • 2012 Art of Seeing, the Ritual of Storytelling, invited speaker, Where the Wild Things Are: Recent Advances in Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Research, Durham University
  • 2011 Accessing the Past – Visual Interpretation of Prehistoric Rock Art, invited speaker at the Rock Art in Modern Society, Kemerovo, Russia
  • 2011 The form and the meaning: the Upper Palaeolithic human representations in sculpture and Materiality of image: the active role of social memory in shaping the myths and legends of prehistoric communities by the White Sea (eastern Scandinavia), presented at European Association of Archaeologists Meeting conference, Oslo, Norway
  • 2011 The Social Contexts of Palaeolithic Figural Art: Performativity, Materialisation and Fragmentation, presented at Unravelling the Palaeolithic. 10 years of research at the Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins, The Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins, University of Southampton
  • 2010  The comestible through time and space – an archaeological perspective on celebrating and feasting among prehistoric fisher-gatherer-hunters and early farmers, invited speaker at the Commensality, Social Relations, and Ritual: Between Feasts and Daily Meals, Institut für Vorderasiatische Archäologie, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
  • 2010  Metastable ecosystem of the Shinano River drainage, invited speaker at the Climate Change and Long-Term Changes in the Jomon Culture conference, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, USA


Conference proceedings


  • Khan, A., Janik, L. and Gunes, H., 2022. Computational Recognition of Facial Expressions in Sculpture 2022 10th International Conference on Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction Workshops and Demos, ACIIW 2022,
    Doi: 10.1109/ACIIW57231.2022.10086035
  • Journal articles


  • Janik, DL., 2022. Visual narratives and the depiction of whaling in north European rock art: the case of the White Sea Les Nouvelles de l'archéologie,
    Doi: 10.4000/nda.13517
  • 2021

  • 2020

  • Janik, L., 2020. Prehistoric art as a part of the neurophysiological capacities of seeing. Examples from prehistoric rock art and portable art World Archaeology, v. 52
  • 2019 (Published online)

  • Janik, L., 2019 (Published online). The ontology of praxis: hard memory and the rock art of the Northern Europe Time and Mind,
  • 2018

  • Cooney-Williams, J. and Janik, L., 2018. Community Art: Communities of practice, situated learning, adults and children as creators of cave art in Upper Palaeolithic France and Northern Spain Open Archaeology, v. 4
  • Janik, L. and Kaner, S., 2018. Art and the Brain: Archaeological Perspectives on Visual Communication Open Archaeology, v. 4
  • 2015

  • Janik, L., 2015. In search of the origins of shamanism, community identity and personal experiences: Prehistoric rock art and the religion of northern peoples Fennoscandia Archaeologica, v. 32
  • 2014

  • Janik, L., 2014. Seeing visual narrative: New methodologies in the study of prehistoric visual depictions Archaeological Dialogues, v. 21
  • 2013

  • Janik, L., 2013. Changing paradigms: Flux and stability in past environments Cambridge Anthropology, v. 31
  • 2010

  • Janik, L., 2010. The development and periodisation of White Sea rock carvings ACTA ARCHAEOL-DEN, v. 81
  • 2008

  • Janik, L., 2008. oughts on the use of the direct historical method beyond the Finnish rock art ... Norwegian Archaeological Review, v. 41
  • 2007

  • Janik, L., Roughley, C. and Szczesna, K., 2007. Skiing on the rocks: The experiential art of fisher-gatherer-hunters in prehistoric northern Russia CAMB ARCHAEOL J, v. 17
  • 2005

  • Janik, L., 2005. Review: Ambiguous Images: Gender and Rock Art by K.A. Hays-Gilpin CAMB ARCHAEOL J, v. 15
  • Janik, L., 2005. Review: The Figured Landscapes of Rock-Art: Looking at Pictures in Place edited by C. Chippindale and G. Nash CAMB ARCHAEOL J, v. 15
  • 2004

  • Janik, LD., 2004. Rock carvings of Russian Karelia: Visual perception and cognition Antiquity, v. 78
  • Books


  • Janik, L., 2020. The Archaeology of Seeing Science and Interpretation, the Past and Contemporary Visual Art
  • 2018

  • 2018. Rock Art of the White Sea
  • Book chapters


  • Janik, L., 2018. Rock art as visual representation - or how to travel to Sweden without Christopher Tilley
  • 2015

  • Sapwell, M. and Janik, L., 2015. Making community: Rock art and the creative acts of accumulation
  • 2014

  • Janik, L., 2014. 'Preservation by Record': The Case from Eastern Scandinavia
  • 2013 (No publication date)

  • Janik, L., 2013 (No publication date). Joining Forces: Neuroaesthetics, Contemporary Visual art and Archaeological Interpretation of the Past
  • 2012

  • Janik, L., 2012. The contexts of Palaeolithic figural art: Performativity, materialisation and fragmentation
  • 2011

  • Janik, L., 2011. Why does difference matter? The creation of identity among prehistoric fisher-gatherer-hunters of northern Europe
  • Janik, L., 2011. 'Noble death', images of violence in the rock art of White Sea
  • 2010

  • Janik, L., 2010. The emotional potency of masks and faces in the Early Bronze Age of Northern Europe
  • Janik, L., 2010. Awaking the symbolic calendar: Animal figurines and the conceptualisation of the natural world in the Jomon of Northern Japan
  • 2009

  • Janik, L., 2009. Interpreting visual narrative: From North European rock art to shamanic drums of Northern Peoples
  • 2007

  • Janik, LD., 2007. Animism in the rock art and material culture of prehistoric Siberia
  • 2005

  • Janik, L., 2005. The construction of the individual among North European fishergatherer- hunters in the Early and Mid-Holocene
  • Janik, LD., 2005. Redefining social relations - tradition, complementarity and internal tension
  • 2004

  • Janik, LD., 2004. 'Silent' feminist contribution to archaeological thought
  • 2003

  • Janik, LD., 2003. Changing paradigms: Food as a metaphor for cultural identity among prehistoric fisher-gatherer-hunter communities of northern Europe
  • 2002

  • Janik, LD., 2002. Wandering weed: The journey of buckwheat (Fagopyrum sp.) as an indicator of human movement in Eurasia
  • 1998

  • Janik, LD., 1998. The appearance of food producing societies in the south-eastern Baltic Sea Region
  • Janik, LD. and Zawadzka, H., 1998. Gender politics in Polish archaeology
  • 1997

  • Janik, LD., 1997. Mesolithic and Neolithic Europe
  • Other publications


  • Janik, LD. and Sesna, KS., 2001. Guide for visually impaired people for the 'Flaming pottery: Art and landscape in Jomon Japan'exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
  • Teaching and Supervisions


    Teaching and course coordinating:

    • ARC7: Archaeological Theory and Practice II
    • ARC12: European Prehistory
    • G22: The Socio-politics of the Past
    • G23: Management of Archaeological Heritage
    • G24: Heritage – Special Topics


    Research supervision: 

    My specific research interests can be summarised as investigating the cultural categorisation of material culture and landscape: and the creation, use and meaning in the past and in the present.

    Heritage, Landscape and the Visual Representation
    In researching Heritage, Landscape and Visual Representation my main interests are related to the ways the past influences the present, and how the present influences how we interpret the past. In particular I research how in post-Soviet colonial era material cultures, visual vocabularies and symbolic landscape are used in the construction of identity and sense of belonging, as well as the way contemporary artists and societies use the visual vocabularies of archaeological communities and cultures.

    Early Art of Eurasia

    Over the last decade, my work has focused on nonverbal communication via material culture - including sculpture and rock art - and the materiality of substances from which these works were created. I have been working with the rock art of non-farmers in Eurasia: Karelia (Northern Europe) and Khakassia (Southern Siberia). I have studied sculptures of Palaeolithic human populations of the Russian European Plain and Jomon Japan and the way the material used to make them is related to the cultural categorisation of the landscape and the connections between the communities who inhabit it.  I am currently working in Japan on establishing the clay sources to understand the way clay objects moved across the landscapes.  My work in Russia focuses on the cultural categorisation of the world by prehistoric communities whose landscape underwent a number of climatic alterations, and what we can learn from this when responding to the Anthropocene.

    Current Students:


    Past Students:

    • Jessica Cooney
    • Margaret Comer
    • Sarah Evans
    • Emilie Green
    • Rebecca Haboucha
    • Teresa Handel
    • Tukka Kaikkonen
    • Polly Keeler
    • Xuanlin Liu
    • Frederike Meijer
    • Alex Pryor
    • Mark Sapwel
    • Yingwen Tao
    • Valerie Teh

    Other Professional Activities

    Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London

    Reviewer for international scientific bodies 
    International Evaluator for National Research and Development Agency for the for Specific Thematic Areas Research Team (Heritage), Ministerio De Ciencia, Tecnologia, Conocimiento e Innovación, Chile; Polish Academy of Science; Assessor for Preludium-20, Czech Academy of Sciences,;Referee for the Research Evaluation Exercise, European Research Council Remote Referee for the Horizon 2020 Framework Program; Advance Investigator, Assessor and evaluator for the Comité d'Evaluation Scientifique "Cultures,  Patrimoines", Agence Nationale de la Recherche, France; Member of 8 World Archaeological Congress Scientific Committee, Kyoto, Japan; Member of the Steering Committee, International Forum on Human Origins: Behaviour, Environment and Technology

    Reviewer for international journals
    Antiquity, Art and Perception, Arts, Cambridge Archaeological Journal, Current Swedish Archaeology, Ethnoarchaeology, Heritage, Journal of Archaeology, Norwegian Archaeological Review, Open Archaeology, PLOS ONE, Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, Rock Art Research 
    Editorial Board member for the Japanese Journal of Archaeology

    Job Titles

    Assistant Director of Research
    Fellow of Girton College
    Director of Studies, Girton College

    General Info

    Takes PhD students
    Not available for consultancy
    Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
    Museum Studies
    Material Culture
    Artefact Analysis & Technology
    Art and Iconography
    Archaeological Theory
    Heritage Management
    Cultural Heritage

    Contact Details

    Office: 2.6
    West Building
    Downing Street
    lj102 [at]
    CB2 3DZ
    01223 (3)39295


    Person keywords: 
    Material Culture
    Cognition and Culture
    Rock art
    Archaeological Theory
    Prehistoric and contemporary art
    Heritage Studies
    Science, Technology and Innovation
    Material Culture
    Geographical areas: 
    East Asia
    Southeast Asia
    Periods of interest: 
    Other Prehistory