University of Reading cookie policy

We use cookies on to improve your experience, monitor site performance and tailor content to you

Read our cookie policy to find out how to manage your cookie settings

Dr Karen Ruebens

Principal Investigator of project  COEXIST: Maximising data from fragmented bone to understand the coexistence of late Neanderthals and early Homo sapiens in central and southeast Europe. 

Areas of interest

  • Archaeological proteomics
  • Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS)
  • Neanderthal behaviour
  • Middle Palaeolithic archaeology 
  • Early dispersals of Homo sapiens

Postgraduate supervision

You can contact Karen to discuss research proposals that want to apply proteomics (e.g. ZooMS) to specific sets of archaeological materials from any time period or geographic region.

Karen is currently (co-)supervising the following PhD projects:

  • Unravelling the subsistence and diet of late Neanderthals and early Homo sapiens in Central and Southeast Europe.
  • Maximising the potential of fragmented bone to gain new insights into the coexistence of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens  in Central and Southeast Europe.
  • Expanding the potential of biomolecular analyses of archaeological bone from north African Middle-Late Stone Age contexts.
  • Combining a palaeoproteomic and taphonomic approach to Neanderthal cannibalism at the sites of Les Pradelles and Abri Moula (France).


Karen Ruebens received her PhD from the University of Southampton (UK) in 2013 and subsequently worked as a postdoctoral researcher (funded by the DAAD and MSCA) in Germany, first at the MONREPOS Archaeological Research Centre for Human Behavioural Evolution (Neuwied) and then at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA, Leipzig). Her research interests are focused on unravelling Neanderthal behaviour through wider-scale comparative lithic and faunal analyses, most recently including Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS).  

From 2022-2024 Karen ran the ZooMS lab at the Chaire de Paleoanthropologie at the Collège de France (Paris) where she analysed bone fragments from key late Middle and early Upper Palaeolithic sites in Western Europe, including Ranis and Schmaehingen (Lincombian-Ranisian-Jerzmanowician), Cassenade, Le Moustier, Saint-Césaire, Ormesson and Châtelperron (Châtelperronian).

Karen joined the Department in 2024 where she set up the Archaeological Proteomics lab which is home to the COEXIST project. COEXIST was first selected by the ERC in 2023 and will now be funded by the UKRI until 2029. The project investigates the coexistence of Neanderthals and early Homo sapiens in central and southeast Europe by applying state-of-the-art methods from archaeological science, proteomics and genetics to large quantities of bone fragments. 


Academic qualifications

BA and MA Archaeology – Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium)
MA Archaeology of Human Origins – University of Southampton (UK)
PhD Palaeolithic Archaeology - University of Southampton (UK)

Professional bodies/affiliations

Affiliated researcher, Chaire de Paleoanthropologie, Collège de France, Paris

Editor for the gold open access journal Paleoanthropology, jointly run by the PaleoAnthropology Society and the European Society for the Study of Human Evolution (ESHE)


Loading your publications ...