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Department of Archaeology


Principal Investigator

Cameron A. Petrie, University of Cambridge

I am the PI for the TwoRains project, and am co-ordinating its overarching strategy and implementation. In collaboration with Prof. R.N. Singh, I am leading the field component of the project, and am also responsible for co-ordinating the execution of the analysis required for each of the workpackages in Cambridge. I have co-directed excavations at Masudpur I and VII, Burj, Dabli vas Chugta, Bahola, and Lohari Ragho II jointly with Ravindra Nath Singh as part of the Land, Water and Settlement project. I have also co-directed fieldwork in Iran and Pakistan.



Ravindra Nath Singh, Banares Hindu University

I am Professor in Archaeology, Department of AIHC & Archaeology, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India. As co-Investigator on the TwoRains project I will be involved in most of the field research in India including excavations at Lohari Ragho II and Masudpur I. I have directed several field projects in India, including six sites jointly with Cameron Petrie as part of the Land, Water and Settlement project. I also have a more general interest in archaeological science, and the history of science and technology, particularly archaeometallurgy, glass technology and climatic studies.


Research Administrator

Jenny Dunstall, University of Cambridge

I am the part time administrator for the TwoRains project, qualified to MBA level.  I only work one day per week on TwoRains although I am usually contactable Tuesdays and Wednesdays, working another day for a second project.  The rest of my time I am retired and my background is in university student services management and local government economic development.  If you have any queries and are not sure who to contact for TwoRains I may be a good first port of call if it is not urgent and I will respond on my next working day.



Post-Doctoral Research Associates


Andreas Angourakis, University of Cambridge

My research has focused on the development of simulation models of socio-ecological dynamics in the past, mainly using agent-based modeling, and assembling multivariate statistical protocols for analysing and interpreting archaeological data. In TwoRains, my research focuses on synthesising the wide variety of data generated by the project and creating agent-based models that reflect and can interact with the team's knowledge and hypotheses. I am interested in exploring how human societies adapted and thrived in the variable landscape of NW India, before and after the main climatic shift affecting the Indus Civilisation.



Jennifer Bates, University of Cambridge

My multi-proxy project ‘Life in Indus households: analysis of SPatial ACtivity Environments in villages in the Indus Civilisation of South Asia’ (SPACE) employs a range of microbotanical techniques (phytoliths and microcharcoal), faecal spherulites and geochemical analysis to investigate the variety of activities that could leave a signature in the surfaces of domestic spaces in the Indus Civilisation, drawing on materials from the TwoRains Project. Formerly at Selwyn College and the McDonald Institute, University of Cambridge, I am now based at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World.



Francesc Conesa, University of Cambridge

My research combines multi-temporal geospatial datasets (ranging from historical maps and satellite imagery to geoarchaeological proxies) to explore past human settlements, landscape dynamics and site detection and monitoring. I am presently involved in the MSCA-IF project MarginScapes, which aims to accurately detect ancient sites and to identify long-term land use and water management strategies in the Cholistan Desert in Pakistan. This area was core to the development of the Indus Civilisation, and is immediately adjacent to the north-western Indian plains investigated by the TwoRains project.


Arnau Garcia, University of Cambridge

My research focuses on the study of present landscapes as the result of long-term human-environment interactions and, consequently, part of our cultural heritage. As a landscape archaeologist, I work with archaeological, historical and geospatial data in the context of multidisciplinary studies directed to understand how human societies have inhabited and conceptualized their environment through time.



Adam Green, University of Cambridge

I am combining archaeological fieldwork with previous archaeological studies to address critical questions about landscapes and technologies in the Indus civilization. In the field, I am systematically collecting new data using digital tools to record site location, morphology and other attributes with extremely high precision. In the lab, I am assembling comprehensive new databases that allow us to test old assumptions about Indus settlements and compare studies that used different methods to answer different questions.


Penny Jones, University of Tasmania

My PhD research used isotopic techniques to investigate climate change and how it affected Indus agriculture, focusing on eight sites across Haryana, Rajasthan and Pakistan and supported by the Rae and Edith Bennett Traveling Scholarship. I brought a new perspective to questions about climate and Indus society by taking a mechanistic, rather than correlative approach. I remain deeply interested in questions about climate change, adaptation and food security in the past, but have taken up a position at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, researching the impacts of pollen, smoke and extreme temperatures on human health.



Emma Lightfoot, University of Cambridge

My research uses stable isotope analysis (C, N, O, Sr). For TwoRains I am using animal teeth from our excavations to document changes in seasonal and annual precipitation, providing intra-annual climatic data that are directly related to the archaeological record. I am also using isotopic analysis of plant and animal remains to ask how or if subsistence strategies changed within and between sites, and through time, and to ask whether or not climate change caused water stress.




Sayantani Neogi, Ludwig-Maximilians University

My PhD research for the Land, Water and Settlement project used pedology to investigate the evolution of the landscape as a product of both environmental and cultural factors. Specifically, I investigated the nature of on-site household occupation, agricultural systems, associated soils and their sustainability in the Indus period in northwest India. Previously on the ERC Starting Grant project ‘AcrossBorders’, I am currently a researcher on the EAMENA project at Durham University. 




Hector Orengo, University of Cambridge

I am applying satellite remote sensing techniques and GIS-based topographic analysis to detect ancient cultural features and to reconstruct the palaeohydrographical network of Indian Punjab and Haryana. My work combines large-scale multi-temporal, multi-sensor datasets and high-resolution digital terrain models in order to overcome the effects of seasonal variability, changing cultivation patterns and large-scale landscape modifications. I am currently a Ramón y Cajal Researcher at the Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology.




M Cemre Ustunkaya, University of Cambridge

I am an archaeobotanist specialising in the analysis of charred plant macro fossils and stable isotope analysis of plant materials. Archaeobotanical remains from the TwoRains excavations will be used to understand how agricultural practices were shaped by stressful environmental conditions. Morphological analysis of crop grains will be utilised to investigate if there is a decrease in overall crop yield. I am also interested in whether there was state control over agriculture and, if so, how this affected agricultural management on a smaller scale.




 Nathan Wright, University of Cambridge

I am an archaeobotanist specialising in the analysis of charred and water logged wood remains (anthracology) for the purpose of analysing past climate, woodland resource use, and landscape modification. Beyond food and water, wood may well be the most important resource for human survival and this has enormous implications on security and subsistence in the past, present, and future. Due to this importance of wood as a fuel and construction resource, I analyse wood supply and the impacts of human activity and climate change on that supply through the application of dendroecological and dendrochronological techniques.




Jean-Philippe Baudouin, University of Cambridge

The Indus region has a complex meteorologic environment affected by both the Indian summer monsoon and the Central Asian winter rains. I aim to understand the variability of these systems, focusing on the centennial drought that probably occurred in the area 4000 years ago. I will use multi-millennium climate simulations that can reproduce long term drought conditions over the Indian subcontinent and will search for the drivers behind these droughts, looking at orbital forcing, ocean temperature anomalies and vegetation feedback.




Alessandro Ceccarelli, University of Cambridge

I am pursuing a holistic approach to the study of archaeological ceramic materials from Indus urban and post-urban sites to trace social continuity and transformations within the production systems of rural communities. I am combining technological and compositional methods to study ceramic industries, including thin-section petrography, XRD, FTIR, WD-XRF and pXRF. Using these methods, I will investigate the production and distribution of artefacts (chaîne opératoire), and also synchronic and diachronic cultural behaviours of Indus societies.




Alena Giesche, University of Cambridge

My research consists of a detailed examination of the palaeoclimatic shifts that coincided with societal changes during and after the Mature Harappan urban phase. I am using proxies from a broad latitudinal gradient to investigate the timing and extent of the weakening of the Indian Summer Monsoon during the decline of the Indus civilization. My research is based on geochemical analysis of marine foraminifera in the Arabian Sea, palaeolake sediments close to populous Indus centers, as well as speleothems in Himalayan caves. 




Danika Parikh, University of Cambridge

My PhD focuses on technology, the materialisation of social boundaries and ideology, and the role of material culture in negotiating and communicating identity. I am studying the ceramics from rural Indus settlements in northwest India to examine how they changed over time and across space, and how their production and distribution were affected by the development and expansion of urban settlements in the region. I am interested in the socioeconomic links between these urban and rural settlements, and the relationship between ceramic decorative motifs, rural identity and regionalism.



Akshyeta SuryanarayanUniversity of Cambridge

My research aims to characterise the nature and variation of dietary practices at Indus village, town and city-sized settlements with the first-ever investigation of lipid food residues in the Indus context. I am particularly interested in studying what foods were cooked in Indus vessels, the degree to which this varied between settlements, and their stability or variability over time, especially in the face of climate change. My research is funded by the Cambridge Trust, the Nehru Trust for Cambridge University.




Joanna WalkerUniversity of Cambridge

My research focuses on reconstructing past environments. I am currently using geoarchaeological methods as part of the TwoRains Project to identify changes in the palaeolandscape surrounding Indus settlement sites in northwest India. I am trying to look beyond the coincidence of climate change and the onset of Indus decline to understand how humans have responded to variable rainfall and hydrological regimes. As part of this I am analysing sediment from both within and around settlements, looking at changes in lithology and soil micromorphology through time. 






Prof. C A I French, University of Cambridge (Geoarchaeology)

Dr M Herzog, University of Cambridge (Climate modelling)

Prof. D Hodell, University of Cambridge (Palaeoclimate)

Dr T C O'Connell, University of Cambridge (Isotopes, Palaeoclimate)

Dr M Altaweel, University College London (Agent-based modelling)

Dr M Bithell, University of Cambridge (Agent-based modelling)

Prof. M Madella, University Pompeu Fabra (Archaeobotany)

Prof. P Joglekar, Deccan College (Bioarchaeology)

Dr B Menze, Technische Universität München (Remote sensing, GIS)

Dr V Pawar, MD University (Archaeology)

Mr D I Redhouse, University of Cambridge (GIS, Archaeology)



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