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Geoff Smith

Areas of interest

  • Zooarchaeology
  • Past human diet
  • Environmental reconstruction
  • Biomolecular archaeology
  • Data analysis using R

Postgraduate supervision

Geoff is currently co-supervising the following PhD research:

Unravelling the subsistence and diet of late Neanderthals and early Homo sapiens in Central and Southeast Europe.

Pauline Raymond: Combining a palaeoproteomic and taphonomic approach to Neanderthal cannibalism at the sites of Les Pradelles and Abri Moula (France).

Previous graduates include:

Virginie Sinet-Mathiot: Integrating palaeoproteomics into the zooarchaeological analyses of Palaeolithic bone assemblages (Graduated University of Leiden, 2023)

Research projects

Geoff is lead collaborator on the ERC/UKRI funded COEXIST project.


Geoff Smith is a zooarchaeologist interested in human subsistence behaviour and changes in human diet. His research interests are focused on understanding human diet and change throughout the Pleistocene incorporating zooarchaeology and novel biomolecular methods including zooarchaeology by mass spectrometry (ZooMS), stable isotopes and ancient DNA (aDNA). Most recently, he has focused on differences in subsistence, diet and site use in late Neanderthal and early Homo sapiens. This has identified new, earlier migration of Homo sapiens into Europe prior to 45,000 years ago at Bacho Kiro Cave (Bulgaria) and Ranis (Germany).

Geoff was awarded a PhD from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London (UK) in 2010 and subsequently worked as a postdoctoral scientist (funded by the DFG and DAAD) at Monrepos Archaeological Research Centre (Germany, 2012-2015), University of California, Davis (2016-2017) and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig (Germany, 2017-2022).

Between 2022-2024 he was a Marie Skłodowska-Curie postdoctoral fellow at the School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent. His project BACBONE combined taxonomic identifications of bone fragments through ZooMS, with the microscopic study of alterations to bone inner structures (histotaphonomy) using high resolution micro-CT scanning, hard tissue histology and DNA analysis.

Geoff is a Senior Researcher in Zooarchaeology at University of Reading and is lead collaborator on the ERC/UKRI COEXIST project. He is leading work packages on integrating ZooMS and zooarchaeological data to maximise the potential of fragmented Palaeolithic bone assemblages. Through this he will obtain a deeper understanding of the diet and subsistence of Neanderthals and early Homo sapiens.

Academic qualifications

BSc Archaeology – University of London (UK)

MSc Palaeoecology of Human Societies – University of London (UK)

PhD Palaeolithic Zooarchaeology – University College London (UK)


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