Dr Julie Dunne

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Senior Research Associate and Commercial Manager


MSci (Hons) in Archaeological Science, University of Bristol 2010

Winner of the Earth Sciences Hancock Special Prize for outstanding achievement 2010

PhD Organic Geochemistry Unit, University of Bristol 2014

My doctoral research focused on investigating diet and subsistence practices of prehistoric groups in the 'Green' Sahara of Holocene north Africa, using a combined archaeological, molecular and isotopic approach.

The research focussed firstly on the subsistence practices of Early Holocene semi-sedentary hunter-gatherers and then on the temporal and spatial extent of the exploitation of domesticates by mobile pastoralists in the Middle Holocene. The d13C and D13C values of preserved fatty acids extracted from archaeological ceramics, using a new reference database for modern animal fats, confirmed the exploitation of domesticates for their carcass and dairy products, beginning in the fifth millennium BC. The results also revealed that the animals giving rise to these fats subsisted on a wide range of different forages composed of C3 plants, varying combinations of C3 and C4, to diets comprising primarily C4 plants, suggesting that the ecosystems existing across the span of the early to middle Holocene in north Africa were extremely varied.

Furthermore, the remarkable preservation of diagnostic plant lipid biomarkers in organic residues from sites in the Libyan Sahara and at Kadero, Sudan, has enabled identification of the earliest processing of several different plant types in ceramic vessels. 

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I am currently working on a three year Leverhulme funded project called ‘Peopling the Green Sahara – a multi-proxy approach to reconstructing the ecological and demographic history of the Saharan Holocene’. This project will explore the economic, ecological and demographic history of the enigmatic “Green Sahara” to address how Holocene climate change affected broad-scale population dynamics and the role of climate as a driver in subsistence change and cultural innovation. In conjunction with researchers from Kings College, London, the project employs a radical new approach that will bring together, for the first time, novel methods in biomolecular and stable isotopic analysis of organic residues in prehistoric pottery to provide both dietary and ecological signatures, alongside high-resolution palaeohydrological mapping and spatio-temporal modelling of radiocarbon and archaeological data.

For more details on the project please see our website www.greensahara-leverhulme.com

I am also a project partner on the Horizon 2020 ERC-funded project ‘FoodCult, Food, culture and identity in Ireland circa 1550-1650’. Susan Flavin from Trinity College, Dublin, is the Principal Investigator on the project. This is a multidisciplinary project including food microhistories, mapping diet: comparative foodways, stable isotope analysis, zooarchaeology and experimental archaeology: brewing. I’ll be using organic residue analysis to investigate

  1. the relative role of meat v dairy
  2. the nature of trade networks (e.g. possible identification of resins)
  3. changes in the material culture of food (e.g. evidence of commodification and vessel specialisation)

The link to the project can be found here https://foodcult.eu/

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13. Dunne, J., K. Rebay-Salisbury, R. Salisbury, A. Frisch, C. Walton-Doyle and R. Evershed (2019). Milk of ruminants in ceramic baby bottles from prehistoric child graves. Nature 574(7777): 246-248

12. Dunne, J., Chapman, A., Blinkhorn, P. and Evershed, R. P., 2019. Reconciling organic residue analysis, faunal, archaeobotanical and historical records: Diet and the medieval peasant at West Cotton, Raunds, Northamptonshire. Journal of Archaeological Science 107: 58-70.

11. Dunne, J., Grillo, K. M., Casanova, E., Whelton, H. L., Evershed. R. P., 2018. Pastoralist foodways recorded in organic residues from pottery vessels of the modern Samburu, Kenya. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, Available online 15-06-2018

10. Cappellini, E., Prohaska, A., Racimo, F., Welker, F., Pedersen, M.W., Allentoft, M.E., Damgaard, P.d.B., Gutenbrunner, P., Dunne, J., Hammann, S., Roffet-Salque, M., Ilardo, M., Moreno-Mayar, J.V., Wang, Y., Sikora, M., Vinner, L., Cox, J., Evershed, R.P. & Willerslev, E., 2018, ‘Ancient biomolecules and evolutionary inference’. Annual Review of Biochemistry, vol 87.

9. Dunne, J., Evershed, R.P., di Lernia, S., Chłodnicki, M. & Kherbouche, F., 2017. 'Timing and pace of dairying inception and animal husbandry practices across Holocene North Africa'. Quaternary International.  In press.

8. Dunne, J., Mercuri, A. M., Evershed, R. P., Bruni, S., di Lernia, S., 2016. Earliest Direct Evidence of Plant Processing in Prehistoric Saharan Pottery. Nature Plants, 3, 1-6. DOI: 10.1038/nplants.2016.194

7. Kherbouche, F., Dunne, J., Merzoug, S., Hachi, S. and Evershed, R. P., 2016. Middle Holocene hunting and herding at Gueldaman Cave, Algeria: An integrated study of the vertebrate fauna and pottery lipid residues. Quaternary International 410, Part A: 50-60.

6. Roffet-Salque, M., Dunne, J., Altoft, D., Casanova, E., Cramp, L.J.E., Smyth, J., Whelton, H., Evershed, R.P., in press, From the inside out: upscaling organic residue analyses of archaeological ceramics, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

5. Roffet-Salque, M., Regert, M., Evershed, R. P., Outram, A. K., Cramp, L. J. E., Decavallas, O., Dunne, J., Gerbault, P., Mileto, S., Mirabaud, S., Pääkkönen, M., Smyth, J., Šoberl, L., Whelton, H. L., Alday-Ruiz, A., Asplund, H., Bartkowiak, M., Bayer-Niemeier, E., Belhouchet, L., Bernardini, F., Budja, M., Cooney, G., Cubas, M., Danaher, E. M., Diniz, M., Domboróczki, L., Fabbri, C., González-Urquijo, J. E., Guilaine, J., Hachi, S., Hartwell, B. N., Hofmann, D., Hohle, I., Ibáñez, J. J., Karul, N., Kherbouche, F., Kiely, J., Kotsakis, K., Lueth, F., Mallory, J. P., Manen, C., Marciniak, A., Maurice-Chabard, B., Mc Gonigle, M. A., Mulazzani, S., Özdoğan, M., Perić, O. S., Perić, S. R., Petrasch, J., Pétrequin, A.-M., Pétrequin, P., Poensgen, U., Pollard, C. J., Poplin, F., Radi, G., Stadler, P., Stäuble, H., Tasić, N., Urem-Kotsou, D., Vuković, J. B., Walsh, F., Whittle, A., Wolfram, S., Zapata-Peña, L. and Zoughlami, J., 2015, Widespread exploitation of the honeybee by early Neolithic farmers, Nature527, 226-230. DOI: 10.1038/nature15757

4. Dunne, J., 2015, When the cows some home: a consideration of the sensorial engagement between pastoralists and their cattle. In: Coming to Senses: Topics in Sensorial Archaeology (ed.) J.R. Pellini (Newcastle-Upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing).

3. Dunne, J., Evershed, R.P., Cramp, L.J.E., Bruni, S., Biagetti, S. and di Lernia, S., 2013. The beginnings of Dairying as practised by Pastoralists in ‘Green’ Saharan Africa in the 5th Millennium BC. Documenta Praehistorica 40, 118-130. 

2. Dunne, J., Evershed, R.P., Salque, M., Cramp, L., Bruni, S., Ryan, K., Biagetti, S., and di Lernia, S. 2012. First dairying in green Saharan Africa in the fifth millennium BC. Nature, 486, 390-394

1. Dunne, J. 2012. The ‘Dead Man’s Penny’: A Biography of the First World War Bronze Memorial Plaque. In: Beyond the Dead Horizon: Studies in Modern Conflict Archaeology (ed.) Nicholas J Saunders (Oxford: Oxbow Books)

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Other publications

1. Guidance to good practice in organic residue analysis – Historic England, Published January 2017

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Popular Articles

2. Nicosia, the last divided capital, 2014. Military History Monthly

1. The Dead Mans Penny, 2010. Military History Monthly 

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