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I am an archaeologist whose work focuses on the multidisciplinary study of the evolution of human social life and cognition. I have a BA (Hons) in Archaeology and Anthropology from the University of Cambridge and an MA in Osteoarchaeology and PhD in Palaeolithic Archaeology from the University of Southampton.

I am programme co-ordinator for BA (Hons) Archaeology and Anthropology and interim programme co-ordinator for BSc (Hons) Biological Anthropology. First year teaching includes teaching on 'Ancient Peoples and Places' and 'Introduction to Anthropology' and co-ordinating 'Topics in Contemporary Science'. In the second year I teach 'Themes in Archaeology and Anthropology' and co-teach the osteoarchaeology option of 'Post-excavation skills'.

My research focuses on how and why humans were able to scale up their social lives from the very small social groups we lived in for much of our prehistory to the global social networks which characterise people’s lives today. My works takes a multidisciplinary perspective which emphasises the interrelations between the physical and social environments in which human evolution has taken place, and I am particularly interested in the role played by material culture in human social life. I was a member of the BA Centenary project 'From Lucy to Language: the archaeology of the social brain'

Within this broad area I pursue two interlinked areas of research which focus on earlier and later periods of human social development. In the first I look at the relationship between physical and social environments during human evolution, and particularly the social changes that allowed our ancestors to expand out of African environments into Eurasia after around 1.7 million years ago. My second area of research focuses on the social developments which formed part of the shift from mobile hunting and gathering to settled village life from around 20,000BCE in the Near East.

Research

My research spans two interlinked themes:

Theme 1:
I use a variety of techniques including GIS and agent-based modelling to investigate how past environments affected hominin life history and social structure, and how this impacted on the evolution of the human brain, life histories and cultural innovation and transmission.

Theme 2:
I use techniques derived from social network analysis to investigate changes in material culture distribution as a proxy for social relations during the transition from mobile hunting and gathering to settled village life in the Epipalaeolithic and early Neolithic of the Near East 20-6,000BCE. I am a founding member of ‘The Connected Past’ project (http://connectedpast.soton.ac.uk/) developing methodologies derived from network science for use with archaeological and historical datasets.

Publications

Grants

Outreach & engagement