BA (hons) Archaeology & Anthropology (2003) – University of Oxford
MSc Archaeological Science (2004) – Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford
PhD Archaeology (2008) – Department of Archaeology, University of Reading (under co-supervision from Organic Geochemistry Unit, University of Bristol)
Title of thesis: ‘Foodways and Identity: Organic residue analysis of Roman mortaria and other pottery’.
This research involved the extraction and analysis of absorbed and surface residues from <600 Roman pot sherds via HTGC, GC/MS and GC-C-IRMS in order to reconstruct and compare culinary patterns. These data demonstrated it is possible to distinguish different vessel groups based upon the organic residue data, resulting from differences in use in antiquity, and also indicated continuity of food-ways from the Iron Age into the Roman period despite the use of ‘Roman’ style material culture.
Post-doctoral research assistant (Oct 2008-April 2009) – Organic Geochemistry Unit, University of Bristol
The characterisation of mummy balms and resins from Roman Egypt.
This project, which was funded by, and in collaboration with, the Brooklyn Museum, New York, involved the analysis of the composition of mummy balms taken from a large number of human and animal mummies via HTGC, py-GC/MS and HTGC/MS. This work allowed the contribution of a range of commodities, including fats and plant oils, beeswax, bitumen and various resins to be determined.
NERC post-doctoral research assistant (2009-2012) – Organic Geochemistry Unit, University of Bristol:
Changing patterns of marine product exploitation in human prehistory via biomarker proxies in archaeological pottery.
Marine fauna were likely extensively exploited by our ancestors for tens of thousands of years and yet finding evidence for the consumption of marine resources by prehistoric populations can prove extremely problematic. The detection of marine lipids in archaeological pottery has proved challenging due to the rapid oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which comprise the major, and most characteristic, component of fats of a marine origin. However, recent work has shown the persistence of a range of biomarkers, including isoprenoid fatty acids and ω-(o-alkylphenyl) alkanoic acids which have been extracted from archaeological pottery used to process marine commodities (Hansel et al., 2004; Copley et al., 2004; Craig et al., 2007; Evershed et al., 2008; Hansel & Evershed, 2009). This project involves the development of biomarker proxies via further heating experiments of polyunsaturated fatty acids and analysis of modern reference materials. This will be performed alongside the large-scale analysis of organic residues extracted from Neolithic and later pottery from inland, coastal and island sites, including the UK, Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal, with the ultimate aim of investigating whether the exploitation of marine resources continued with the advent of farming, albeit at levels which may previously have been undetectable.