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Matthew Bosomworth – University of Reading

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Matthew Bosomworth

Early to Mid Holocene climate and its impact on the development of the Neolithic in Iraq and Iran.

 This project seeks to investigate Holocene climate variability in the eastern half of the Fertile Crescent (present day Syria, Iraq and Iran) and what role, if any, this may have had on major societal developments in the region. The region was a major global centre for a number of major societal developments during the Holocene, including the emergence of agricultural and urban societies. Climate and environmental change are often cited as a major mechanism in societal change. However, there are no high resolution palaeoclimate records in the region that cover most of the Holocene, which limits are understanding of climate variability in the region and its influence on societies. To improve this, we use the geochemical analysis of speleothems (cave carbonates such as stalagmites) from Iraq to construct high-resolution, multi-proxy palaeoclimate records. These records will hopefully allow us to understand how moisture availability changed over the last c.10,000 years and what, if at all, impact this had on societies in the Fertile Crescent. This project is funded by the AHRC SWW DTP and geochemical analysis has been supported by NERC.


About Me:

I hold a BSc (first class) in Archaeology from the University of Reading and an MSc (with Distinction) in Archaeological Science from the University of Oxford, which was supported by a grant from the Edward Hall Memorial Fund. My BSc dissertation investigated late Holocene palaeoclimate variability in Iraq using speleothems, which I have continued into my PhD. My MSc dissertation studied biomolecular residues in archaeological soils from a Palaeolithic cave site in France. During my undergraduate degree I was fortunate enough to participate in two seasons of excavations at the Neolithic sites of Bestansur and Shimshara in Iraqi Kurdistan with the Central Zagros Archaeological Project, which sparked my interest in the region and its archaeology. Between my undergraduate and my postgraduate studies, I worked as a commercial archaeologist in London, where I worked on a number of major infrastructure projects including Crossrail and Thames tideway. During my PhD, I helped organise the SAGES PGR Conference in 2018 and more recently, assisted the implementation of a new first year undergraduate course, Archaeology Today.

Research Interests:

  • Holocene Paleoclimatology.
  • Speleothems.
  •  Archaeological Science.
  • Stable Isotope Geochemistry.
  •  Archaeology of the Middle East. 

Research Groups:

Landscape, Climate and the Lived Environment

       Matt B


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Professor Roger Matthews (University of Reading)

Professor Dominik Fleitmann (University of Basel)

Professor Alastair Pike (University of Southampton)

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