MSc Environmental Archaeology core teaching staff

A brief profile of the staff teaching MSc Environmental Archaeology

Professor Martin Bell

Convenor: Field Methods and Experimentation in Geoarchaeology

Martin teaches environmental archaeology, geoarchaeology, and coastal and maritime archaeology.  His research concerns the contribution which archaeology makes to an understanding of environmental change on a wide range of timescales. Analytically he is interested in the analysis of soils, sediments and molluscs, land and marine. Topics include:

  • Prehistory of soil erosion,
  • Experimental archaeology
  • Coastal environments.

Coastal research has focused on an extensive programme of fieldwork and excavations in the Severn Estuary where he has been working since 1983. This has particularly involved major excavations at Brean Down, Goldcliff and Redwick. Discoveries at these sites include several Mesolithic settlements and human and animal footprints, and many Bronze Age and Iron Age buildings and wood structures such as trackways and fish traps.

Current fieldwork projects include the Peterstone palaeochannels project in the Severn Estuary (with Dr Alex Brown), and investigations at various experimental archaeology sites including Butser Ancient Farm and St Fagans, National History Museum Wales as part of the Developing experimental approaches in archaeology Project. He is also involved in a project on in situ monitoring of wetland sites in the Somerset Levels and a cave excavation at Taforalt, Morocco (with Prof Nick Barton, Oxford).

Dr Stuart Black

Convenor: Laboratory Methods in Geoarchaeology

Stuart teaches environmental earth science and geoarchaeology. His research centres around using Uranium Series disequilibria to answer fundamental questions regarding timing of events, cycling of materials, processes and rates of various natural systems. Topics include:

  • U-Series dating of carbonate and travertine assemblages from SE Spain
  • High resolution timescale analysis of estuarine sediments (NERC sponsored)
  • Uranium cycling around military sites (DSTL/MOD)
  • Applications of U-Series disequilibria to forensic science (Forensic Alliance/NERC/Police Forces).

Professor Nick Branch

Convenor: Field Course, Geology and Sedimentology in Archaeology, and Dissertation: Research Skills and Reporting

Nick teaches environmental archaeology and Quaternary science, with a specific emphasis on vegetation history and archaeobotany, and human activity and environmental change. His research interests have focused on the relationship between human activities and environmental change, with a particular emphasis on vegetation history, in the Peruvian Andes, Mediterranean and NW Europe.

He is Director of an environmental archaeological service facility, which provides specialist expertise in geoarchaeology, zooarchaeology, archaeobotany and geochronology to private companies, environmental consultancies and government organisations.

His publications include contributions to:

  • Environmental Archaeology: Theoretical and Practical Approaches;
  • Ligurian Landscapes, Studies in Archaeology, Geography and History;
  • Bog Bodies: New Discoveries and New Perspectives;
  • Aspects of the Archaeology and History of Surrey.

Professor Dominik Fleitmann

Convenor: Holocene Climate Change and Human Society

Domonic specializes in paleocllimate research with particular interest in Isotope geology, stable isotopes and stalagmites. His latest project will use will use a fairly new method (Uranium-Lead dating) for dating very old stalagmites formed during periods when successful dispersal of hominids from central Africa were possible due to the climactic conditions creating a savannah-type landscape in the currently vast desert belts in Northern Africa and Arabia.

Dr Robert Hosfield

Convenor: Quantitative Methods in Geoarchaeology

Rob teaches Palaeolithic archaeology and human origins, stone tools (lithic technology), and aspects of archaeological computing (including statistics and GIS). His research focuses upon the Lower Palaeolithic archaeology and landscapes of north-western Europe, the meaning and significance of handaxes, and Middle Pleistocene geoarchaeology.

His research and fieldwork has taken him as far afield as Spain and South Africa, although recently he's spent more time in Devon, Dorset and West Wales, undertaking excavation and experimental archaeology projects.

His publications include papers in

  • Journal of Quaternary Science
  • Quaternary Science Reviews
  • Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society
  • Journal of Archaeological Science

He has published chapters in books concerning Palaeolithic individuals, cultural evolution and change over time, experimental archaeology, and computing applications in archaeology.

He is a committee member for the Lithic Studies Society and has been a recent editor of the Society's journal Lithics.

Dr Mary Lewis

Mary is a biological anthropologist, specializing in the study of ancient diseases (palaeopathology). In particular, Mary is an expert in human osteology and skeletal pathology and in the personal identification of children in forensic anthropology. She has examined the changing pattern of disease in children in relation to socio-economic transitions in the past (Romano-British to Anglo-Saxon; urban to industrial) and diet.

She has published in journals such as the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Antiquity and International Journal of Osteoarchaeology and contributed to books on leprosy, environmental archaeology and forensic anthropology. Her book The Bioarchaeology of Children (Cambridge University Press) was published in 2007.

Dr Wendy Matthews

Convenor: Applications of Micromorphological Analysis

Wendy teaches Mesopotamian archaeology and geoarchaeology. Her research interests have focused on uses and concepts of space and human-environment inter-relationships in early agricultural and urban settlements and landscapes in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Bahrain. In her research she has used microscopic analysis of deposits and stratigraphic sequences to detect high-resolution traces of activities and site formation processes.

She is Co-Director of the Central Zagros Archaeological Project, Iran, excavating two early Neolithic sites on a major routeway through the Zagros mountains that later became the Silk Road, jointly with Bu Ali Sina University, Iran, and University College London,to investigate sedentism and resource management in the Neolithic of Western Iran. She is also studying the life-history of buildings and palaeoecology at the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük, Turkey, in the interdisciplinary project directed by Professor Ian Hodder, Stanford University.

She has published articles in journals such as World Archaeology and Quaternary International, in books on geoarchaeology, and in excavation and thematic volumes, including the Çatalhöyük publication series.

Dr Gundula Müldner

Gundula specialises in stable isotope analysis of human and animal bone for the reconstruction of diet in the past. She has a background in biological anthropology and early historical archaeology and her research interests include dietary changes related to cultural and socio-economic transitions in the last 2000 years, as well as questions of diet and social identity in the past.

She has published in the Journal of Archaeological Science and contributed to edited and conference volumes.

Emeritus Professor Stephen Nortcliff

Convenor: Soils in Archaeology

Stephen teaches the applications of soil science to archaeological research. His research interests include:

  • The flow of water and solutes through soils;
  • Soil:tree interactions, in particular agroforestry systems
  • The effects of soil acidification on tree root behaviour
  • The use of recycled organic wastes as soil amendments
  • The impacts of burning on peat soils.

Stephen has published extensively, and since the autumn of 2002 he has held the position of Secretary General of the International Union of Soil Sciences, which has its headquarters in the Department of Geography and Environmental Science.

Dr Aleks Pluskowski

Aleks teaches the archaeology of later medieval Europe and crusading. His research interests include:

  • Environmental archaeology
  • The Christianisation of northern and eastern Europe
  • Crusading and colonisation
  • Medieval aristocratic culture
  • Modern representations of the past

He is currently leading a fieldwork project investigating the environmental impact of castle building in the Baltic region and is involved in an international project exploring the impact of Venetian colonisation in the eastern Mediterranean. His publications include papers on human-animal relations in medieval Europe, and the book Wolves and the Wilderness in the Middle Ages (2006).

He is a founding member of the Medieval Animals Database at the Central European University in Budapest, and of the Animals as Material Culture in the Middle Ages conference series.

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